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The Western Australian Opposition has launched a proposal to increase competition in the state’s electricity market under its Plan for Cheaper Power Bills.

Opposition leader, Liza Harvey, said, “Providing choice of electricity is expected to benefit more than one million households and over 75,000 small businesses, who will receive the same choice for electricity currently enjoyed by big business and government departments.

“One of the first acts of a new Liberal Government, in the first 100 days, will be to drop the threshold for competition from 50MWh to 20MWh. This will provide immediate benefits to Western Australia’s small businesses.”

The Liberals Plan for Cheaper Power Bills is a fundamental economic reform that is part of their Five-Year COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan. The policy will also apply to charitable and other community organisations.

Shadow Minister for Energy, Dean Nalder, said the plan would remove state-owned electricity retailer Synergy’s monopoly over households and small businesses, resulting in greater competition and cheaper power bills.

“After the election, Labor intends to increase household electricity by almost 7 per cent per cent and small business electricity prices by almost 16 per cent, which is unacceptable,” Mr Nalder said.

“Our plan will give consumers a choice of electricity supplier, like they have with gas, which returns discounts of between 35 per cent and 45 per cent.”

Mr Nalder said the Liberals were also announcing the Electricity Safety Net, which guarantees Synergy will continue to provide electricity to West Australians at the same prices in the Budget, ensuring that anyone who doesn’t want to shop around for a better deal will not be financially worse off.

“An important safeguard is that new retailers will not be allowed to charge over the Electricity Safety Net,” Mr Nalder said.

“This important consumer safeguard is to prevent households that sign up for a great introductory offer with a new retailer being slugged with high prices when the deal lapses.

“We will also have the No Asset Sale Guarantee to guarantee there will be absolutely no sale of Synergy, Western Power or Horizon Power, unlike WA Labor, which secretly sold off a number of Synergy renewable energy power stations, including Warradarge Wind Farm, Greenough Solar Farm and the Albany Wind Farm to a Dutch-owned corporation.”

The Australian Energy Council (AEC) welcomed the West Australian Opposition’s proposal as a sensible approach that would be a win for households and small business.

The AEC’s Chief Executive, Sarah McNamara, said, “Competition is the best way for customers to get the best deal for energy.  

“And it becomes even more important when you consider the growth of new consumer energy technologies that can help consumers save money.

“Energy is rapidly shifting from being a utility service into a consumer good with users wanting choice and the ability to tailor the service to meet their needs.

“Competition will deliver innovation in tools and technologies that enhance customer experience and will help drive that shift.”

Ms McNamara said full electricity retail competition is already in place in every other mainland state in Australia.

“And the ACCC found in its October assessment of retail electricity markets in other states the average price paid by residential customers on competitive tariffs was 17 per cent lower than those on regulated prices set by the government,” Ms McNamara said.

“The competition watchdog found that households using the grid and shifting to competitive deals could save $219 a year while small businesses could cut their bill by a quarter and save around $424 a year on average. So, we know competition works and the sooner it is introduced the better.

“We have also seen the benefits of competition in WA’s gas market. That same drive to compete and win over customers through better deals and service offerings will emerge in electricity.”

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