Call to stop carbon price rorting of power bills

As the ACCC ramps up action against the private sector about carbon tax rip-offs, Total Environment Centre today called on Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan to use his federal consumer law powers to prevent state governments from forcing electricity retailers include misleading information about the carbon price impact on electricity bills.

The NSW and Queensland governments have announced that from 1 July, the average cost of the carbon price and related green schemes will be included on all householders’bills. But according to TEC Executive Director Jeff Angel, the statement that will go on the bills of NSW consumers could be misleading and the federal government has the power to enforce an ‘information standard’ instead.

“State government moves which will be in red text like a warning sign, have several problems. The average carbon price will be inaccurate as people’s bills are very specific about kwh use and cost. And they won’t mention that most households will be compensated for the carbon price impacts through the Household Assistance Package. Importantly it will appear that the main reason for increasing power prices is the carbon cost –but this is absolutely wrong.

”After receiving legal advice from the NSW Environmental Defenders Office, the TEC has written to Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan requesting that he use his powers under the Australian Consumer Lawto make an ‘information standard’ for electricity bills, which all retailers would have to include on bills. It would create more transparency by breaking down bills into different components, including generation, network charges, and retailer margins as well as the carbon price and related ‘green schemes’.

“The states are clearly in political campaigning mode with an exercise in greensmearing. It’s also about blame-shifting by state governments which profit from higher electricity prices.”

“Consumers see their power bills continuing to skyrocket and will now blame it on the federal government. But the carbon price and other green schemes willcontribute much less to rising prices than new (and unnecessary) investment in the ‘poles and wires’ networks which are owned by the government in NSW and Queensland. This is currently running at $15 billion per year, the largest proportion of it in NSW, and it will continue to increase for years after the one-off small impact of the carbon price.”

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