CUAC and Consumer Action are very disappointed to advise that we have had to cease formal involvement in the current Australian Competition Tribunal proceedings brought by Victoria’s five monopoly electricity distribution businesses challenging the Australian Energy Regulator’s final electricity distribution price determinations for 2011-15.
We are committed to holding the electricity distribution businesses to account and worked hard to make submissions to the Regulator during its original decision-making process, to keep prices within reasonable limits.
When the businesses moved to challenge the final decision in the Tribunal, CUAC and Consumer Action partnered to seek leave to intervene and represent consumer interests. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, it has become clear that the legal, resource and information barriers we were facing were insurmountable. This is exacerbated by the fact that several aspects of the proceedings are being fought on information over which the distributors claim “commercial confidentiality”, meaning consumers are not in a position to effectively assess or challenge the claims via the existing review process.
Our view is that the odds are heavily stacked against consumers in this review process. We believe that consumers deserved to be heard in these - and future – proceedings and we will campaign to change the national electricity laws governing this, based on a report detailing our findings that we will publish in coming weeks.
Both CUAC and Consumer Action continue to support the Victorian Government’s intervention in this case. We believe that both the Government and the Regulator have a responsibility to the state’s consumers to use their resources to present strong and compelling cases to challenge the claims of the distribution businesses.
We will not only monitor the progress and outcomes of the review but will continue to fight for better consumer outcomes in relation to price, quality, reliability and safety over the regulatory period.