Synergy boss savages MPs over energy policy tinkering

The chairman of State-owned power utility Synergy has savaged Federal politicians for failing to sort out Australia’s energy policy, saying it was hurting households as well as the economy.

As Synergy posted a $12.6 million loss caused by falling electricity and gas sales and writing off retiring plant, Lyndon Rowe lashed out at what he says are self-inflicted mistakes by governments affecting energy security and affordability.

In his foreword in Synergy’s annual report, which was tabled in State Parliament this week, Mr Rowe cited former Productivity Commission chairman Gary Banks to complain about irrational intervention in the sector by governments.

The reference said: “The resulting costs and difficulties (in energy markets) have been greatly compounded … by governments choosing a policy path that is essentially anti-market, one violating basic principles of demand and supply”.

“The energy crisis is self-evidently not the result of market failure but of government failure.”

Mr Rowe argued that energy providers, including those in WA, were “desperate for a period of regulatory stability”, with electricity users to suffer without it.

The comments by the Synergy chairman come as the Turnbull Government struggles to thrash out a policy on energy, with calls for a so-called clean energy targets opposed by many conservative MPs.

They also follow a tough financial year for Synergy, whose chief executive Jason Waters says it was unprecedented in its “difficulty”.

Synergy chairman Lyndon Rowe.Picture: The West Australian

“Never before in my 27 years in the industry have the forces of policy and regulation, consumer interests, broader economic conditions and new technologies conspired to make a once reliable and stable industry so difficult,” Mr Waters wrote.

The financial results handed down by Mr Waters show Synergy suffered a $45 million turnaround in its bottom line, booking an after tax loss of $12.6 million in the 12 months to June 30 following a $32.3 million profit the previous year.

Synergy’s underlying position was even worse — a $27.4 million loss brought about by falling electricity and gas sales and one-off items headlined by a $126.5 million impairment on plant earmarked for closure.

Among the plant to be written off was Muja AB, the 52-year-old coal-fired power station that was controversially refurbished at a cost of $310 million.

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