Victorian energy market overhaul proposed

Victoria’s energy market system should be overhauled to make it fairer and easier for customers to navigate, a report has found.

The review of the state’s gas and electricity market, released on Sunday, found Victorians were paying “unusually high” electricity prices and made 11 recommendations to overhaul the system.

The report pinned the blame on increased competition and deregulation, and said retailers should be required to offer a “no frills” option based on annual usage and a price determined by the Essential Services Commission.

The review also said standing offers – default contracts where the retailer sets the price, which is often much higher than in market contracts – should be scrapped.

Also under the recommendations, retailers would need to make it easier for customers to compare prices, and contract periods would have to run for at least 12 months.

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the review provided a clear path to putting power back into customers’ hands.

“It’s very clear, it’s very stark reality that competition and deregulation is failing consumers,” she told reporters.

“This report looks at the actual realities of what people are having to pay off their energy bills and it provides strong recommendations that will tackle those problems.”

Other proposals outlined in the report included protections and assistance for low-income customers, expanded powers for the Energy and Water Ombudsman and the introduction of an energy market code based on a an Essential Services Commission review.

The government said it would formally respond to the report by the end of the year.

© AAP 2017

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