Adam Searle details Labor's energy policy during visit to Heathcote electorate

Mark Buttigieg (Labor upper house candidate), Gurpreet Singh, owner of the North India Restaurant in Engadine, Maryanne Stuart (Heathcote candidate), Adam Searle.  Picture: supplied
Mark Buttigieg (Labor upper house candidate), Gurpreet Singh, owner of the North India Restaurant in Engadine, Maryanne Stuart (Heathcote candidate), Adam Searle. Picture: supplied

Both major parties are promising to reduce power prices if they win the state election.

Labor’s leader in the Legislative Council and spokesman on energy and climate change, Adam Searle, spelt out his party's policy during a visit to Heathcote electorate, where he met business owners and residents.

Energy Minister Don Hawin responded with the Coalition's strategy.

Mr Searle said a Labor government would re-regulate the retail electricity market and drive retail prices down by:

  •  A fair priced default offer set by an independent regulator for those consumers unable to engage with a very confusing market, to ensure they no longer pay what has been called a "loyalty tax" to the big energy companies in the form of unfairly high prices; 
  • Making sure discounts being offered to consumers are real discounts off what they are actually paying;  
  • Ensuring that products are able to be understood and easily compared by consumers; 
  • Making electricity bills transparent, so consumers can see who they are paying and how much; and 
  • Stopping the big energy companies making excessive retail profits.  

Mr Searle said, since the Coalition came to office in 2011, electricity prices had increased by an average 60 per cent, including 20 per cent since Gladys Berejikian became Premier. 

Deregulation of the retail electricity market in 2015 had seen increases of up to 15 per cent within months by the big three electricity retailers, AGL, Origin and Energy Australia, he said.

"A Labor government will stop big energy companies making excessive retail profits by putting a tough cop back on the beat – having an independent regulator oversight the level of profits being made by the big energy companies and requiring excessive profits be returned to consumers," he said.

Mr Searle said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had costed the savings of Labor's plan as being electricity bill reductions of $409 per year or 24 per cent for the average household, with similar savings expected to be able to be achieved for small businesses.

Mr Harwin responded with figures for the past five years, rather than for the eight years the Coalition has been in office.

He said the government legislated to ensure network prices were lower in 2019 than they were in 2014, and that had been delivered.

"The actions of our government have seen network prices fall by an average of 23 per cent over the last five years," he said.

"The Liberal National Government is getting on with the job of bringing down prices for household.

"Our Empowering Homes package will give 300,000 families the opportunity to install solar energy and battery storage systems with no-cash up front loans.

"Our absolute focus is bringing down bills for households across NSW."

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Energy Don Harwin announce the new solar power initiative during the election campaign. Picture: Jessica Hromas

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Energy Don Harwin announce the new solar power initiative during the election campaign. Picture: Jessica Hromas

Mr Harwin said the Coalition had:

  •  Announced a plan to supercharge the rollout of household solar energy and battery storage for 300,000 homes [involving no-interest loans].
  • Shortlisted 24 projects with a total generation capacity of around 7,000 megawatts for development on WaterNSW dams – mostly pumped hydro projects
  • Developed Australia’s first Transmission Infrastructure Strategy to unlock constraints in our electricity network
  • Approved one of Australia’s largest wind farms at Liverpool Plains, which will power nearly 500,000 homes and deliver 800 jobs.
  • Provided support for 51 renewable energy projects worth close to $10 billion in investment and 6,500 megawatts of capacity, since 2013.
  • Introduced the free Energy Switch service through Service NSW, helping households save up to $1,000 a year by getting a better electricity deal.
  • Committed $20 million to provide up to 900 smart battery systems with a capacity of up to 13 megawatts on key government buildings, like schools and hospitals.