Dr Nahan says competition in the gas market has driven down prices at least 30 per cent. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Nahan commits to electricity competition

Monday, 13 August, 2018 - 15:46

State opposition leader Mike Nahan has locked in part of his party’s energy policy early in the election cycle, pledging on the weekend to allow competition in retail power markets if his party wins the 2021 election.

Under the existing system, consumers using more than 50 megawatt hours a year of electricity can have a choice of providers.

That threshold would be about the level of an independent supermarket.

Other consumers have to buy from government-owned Synergy.

Retail consumers can already choose between gas providers, with four major players in the market and a fifth on the way.

That surge in competition has driven prices down as much as 35 per cent.

Energy Minister Ben Wyatt last year signalled the state government would pursue full competition in the retail power market after announcing a rise in electricity charges.

In February, he moved to open up the electricity market in the Pilbara, but it is not yet clear when deregulation will happen in the grid that covers Perth and Kalgoorlie.

That prompted shadow energy minister Dean Nalder to claim Mr Wyatt was delaying reform to appease unions.

Dr Nahan said on Sunday that he would offer choice to electricity customers.

“In the domestic gas market, customers can go to a competing gas retailer and get discounts of more than 30 per cent on their gas consumption charges,” Dr Nahan said in a statement to media.

“Competition is putting downward pressure on household gas prices and we believe households should have that choice with electricity as well.

“Labor won’t introduce competition, because their union masters won’t allow them to.

“A Liberal government will introduce competition to drive prices down.

“We will allow competition in the retail electricity market and allow households to choose their electricity retailer.”

One surprise aspect of the policy is that Dr Nahan also flagged that government-owned Synergy would be allowed to enter the domestic gas market.

“The government needs to create the environment to attract competition into the market, but instead they are resisting change which is costing households through higher electricity bills,” Dr Nahan said.

“While the McGowan government has forecast electricity bill increases of $500 over the term of the government, the Liberals will bring competition in to remove Synergy’s monopoly and place downward pressure on electricity bills.”