Victorian Budget: Funding boost for regulator good news for energy consumers

Consumer Action Law Centre (Consumer Action) today welcomed an additional $4.1 million in the Victorian Budget in the 2018/19 financial year for the Essential Services Commission (ESC). Funding will contribute to the implementation of the Independent Bipartisan Review of Electricity and Gas Retail Markets (the Review) as well as other ESC regulatory activities.

Consumer Action supports the key recommendations of the Review as a significant step forward in making it easier and fairer for Victorians to get a better, more affordable energy deal.

The Review recommendations include a "Basic Service Offer" that would create a fair price guarantee available to all Victorians households, and an end to misleading "pay-on-time discounts" that can often add up to $100 to a quarterly bill for paying only a day late.

The "Basic Service Offer" (BSO) was the headline recommendation from the Review, and presents an opportunity for a big reform to pull energy retailer's pricing into line, but there's still no commitment to implement that reform.

In January 2018, a significant 66.5% of Victorians said they would support a BSO. The BSO would require electricity retailers to offer Victorians a fair price guarantee set by the ESC, based on the reasonable cost of running an electricity retail business.

Quotes attributable to Gerard Brody, CEO, Consumer Action Law Centre:

"It is good news for Victorians that the ESC has the resources for additional regulatory and enforcement activities. For too long, Victorian households have been at the whim of retail energy companies ripping us off."

"The ESC has begun the process of identifying a fair price for power. We then need businesses to be required to offer a fair price, and ease cost-of-living pressures faced by Victorian households."

"Consumer Action wants the Government and the Opposition to accept the recommendation to establish a regulated Basic Service Offer that would create a fair price guarantee available to all Victorian households."

MEDIA CONTACT: Mick Bellairs, media@consumeraction.org.au, 03 8554 6915

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