Power bill relief

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 09 Maret 2013 | 19.55

THE State Government says power price hikes will be a thing of the past for 260,000 Tasmanian households and small businesses.

Deputy Premier Bryan Green said Aurora Energy's customer base would be sold off to competing retailers, in a move expected to put an end to bill increases.

Legislation will be tabled in Parliament next month to remove Aurora's monopoly, with the sale of its customer base starting mid-year.

The Energy Retailers Association of Australia said the move was a "win" for consumers.

Aurora's customer base will be sold in two tranches to two retailers.

Customers will automatically be rolled over to one of the two retailers, which will control the market for the first three months.

"We think that it's appropriate to give those retailers who are buying into Tasmania the opportunity to at least bed down their businesses," Mr Green said.

From then, the sector will open to full retail competition.

"It's really hard to say [how many retailers will target the state], but my expectation is that there will be many more retailers looking to get Tasmanian customers," Mr Green said.

The Tasmanian Economic Regulator will be given more powers to set the wholesale price of electricity to encourage retailers to enter the market.

"The government will establish the model to determine regulated prices for electricity generated by Hydro Tasmania for the first five years of competition, providing retailers with certainty on entering the Tasmania market," he said.

A fixed wholesale price and competition between retailers will help keep energy prices down.

AERA chief executive Cameron O'Reilly welcomed the move.

"Ultimately the customer will win," he said.

"These reforms should see more electricity retailers enter the Tasmanian market which will give households and business new products and more choice."

Mr Green said power prices should stagnate as a result, despite costly increases in other states.

He said power prices in Queensland and the Northern Territory had recently jumped 20-30 per cent.

"We believe that increases forecast will be below CPI, hopefully even negative going forward," he said.

Mr Green said the State Government would be looking for the highest bidder when selecting the first two energy retailers to enter the market.

"Treasury have been very cautious about providing the government with any real information about what we might get because I'm not quite sure that they're 100 per cent sure [what price it will fetch]," he said.

"There are figures around that you can sort of transpose to what an amount might be, but they haven't provided us with any conclusive advice."

Mr Green said the sale money would be used to finance energy reforms.

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