CHOICE calls for consumer involvement and representation at COAG
As politicians are making their preparations for a crucial Council Of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on the 7th of December in Canberra, prominent consumer group CHOICE is calling for consumer representation as well as individual action in relation to the electricity reform plans to be presented at the meeting. The Prime Minister is expected to lay out the details of the proposed reforms she has announced earlier in the week. Key components of her plan include establishment of a consumer panel, time-of-use pricing and smart meters, and extra funding for a stronger Australian Energy Regulator.
Alan Kirkland, CHOICE chief executive officer, insists that reforms in the electricity industry must involve consumers, who must be well-represented at the COAG meeting. The group advocates for improved consumer protection and making data about time-of-use pricing more accessible to consumers in light of continuous electricity price increases.
Kirkland also stressed for consumers to take action on an issue that has a direct effect on their daily lives and finances. The CHOICE website outlines several ways of consumer involvement in electricity reform such as emailing politicians and officials whose policies and political decisions will set the direction where household electricity bills will go.
Speaking at a national conference of the Energy Efficiency Council, Labor Senator Matt Thistlethwaite also stresses how consumer information is essential in order to prepare the public for what is going to happen if these reforms are to take effect. Thistlethwaite cited the industry deregulation during the 1990s saying, “I don’t believe we’ve prepared the public about that transition and what it means for them.”
However, there is uncertainty if any agreement will be reached at this COAG meeting. State governments have yet to embrace the proposals. Queensland Energy Minister Mark McArdle has already indicated that the state is ruling out the use of smart meters and deregulation of electricity prices. What is certain is that the price of electricity will continue to rise. Several retailers have already announced planned price increases in the upcoming months and an analysis released by Port Jackson Partners projected electricity costs in 2017 to be 80% higher than those in 2011.
Image: choice website