The Queensland Government is set to invest $770 million in an attempt to lower energy prices for consumers in response to an increase in regional electricity prices set by the independent Queensland Competition Authority (QCA).

Queensland Treasurer, Curtis Pitt, said the QCA’s final determination on regulated retail electricity prices for regional Queensland in 2017-18 is unacceptable and the Queensland Government had taken swift action.

“In a major cost-of-living initiative from the 2017-18 Budget in two weeks, we will invest $770 million over three years to back consumers and lower electricity prices from what the QCA has announced.

“The Palaszczuk Government’s actions will reduce the household bill increase in regional Queensland from 7.1 per cent down to 3.3 per cent, an ongoing estimated saving of $51 per year compared to the original QCA outcome.

“This is also a good result for a typical small business, which will now see a much smaller increase of 4.1 per cent instead of the QCA’s 8.2 per cent, resulting in a saving of around $90.

“We’ve directed government-owned corporation Energy Queensland to reduce network charges and in doing so we are ensuring Queenslanders will benefit from stabilised electricity prices and help with cost of living pressures.

“This unprecedented intervention is possible for two reasons.

“Labor’s responsible Budget management over the past two years has put us in a position to provide such a significant benefit to customers, and also our commitment to keeping our Government Owned Corporations in public hands means we can pass on these savings to Queenslanders,” Mr Pitt said.

Mr Pitt said the QCA has advised these price increases are driven by rising wholesale energy costs and represent a failure of the National Electricity Market.

“A lack of federal leadership on climate and energy policy under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull has also created uncertainty for investors which has prevented new supply coming online, driving up prices,” Mr Pitt said.

“The extreme heatwaves and record demand over the recent summer have also contributed – something which was not taken into account by the QCA in publishing their draft determination earlier this year.

“To protect Queensland consumers from these increases, the Palaszczuk Government has directed Energy Queensland to remove the costs of the solar bonus scheme from network charges until at least 2020.”

Queensland MInister for Energy , Mark Bailey, said consumers in south-east Queensland would also see benefits.

“I have written to retailers in the south-east outlining my very clear expectation that these network cost savings are passed through in full,” Mr Bailey said.

“I want to make it clear that this change will not impact payments to eligible customers under the state’s solar bonus scheme, it merely means the costs of the scheme will be met by the government instead of consumers over the next three years.

“I have issued a new pricing delegation for the QCA, with revised prices to be released by 16 June.

“Large businesses and customers on transitional tariffs will also see the benefits of lower electricity prices through this change, with outcomes for these customers to be advised in the QCA’s final determination.”

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