AN average $160 cut to household electricity bills is at stake when the Supreme Court on Friday begins hearing AGL Energy’s challenge to the electricity regulator’s decision to lower power prices.
The state’s largest electricity retailer argues the Essential Services Commission of South Australia wrongly exercised its power to review prices when it decided on October 2 to amend a 2010 price determination following a review forced by welfare groups.
As first reported on adelaidenow, AGL Energy announced late on Tuesday it would launch legal action against ESCOSA in the state’s highest court.
ESCOSA’s change stands to cut an average $160 from the electricity bills of South Australians on standing contracts, although energy retailers have announced savings wouldn’t be passed on to about 570,000 households on market contracts.
Premier Jay Weatherill yesterday said while AGL Energy had the right to pursue legal action, the State Government wanted a “strong regulator that holds their feet to the fire in relation to energy prices.”
“The regulator’s made a decision about an 8 per cent reduction in electricity prices with the standing contract, and obviously we support that, we advocated for that,” he said.
AGL Energy claims the decision in SA, along with a similar decision in Queensland, would reduce profit by about $45 million in the 2012-13 financial year, and curb investment in electricity networks.
The company will have its first opportunity to put their position to the Supreme Court during a directions hearing on Friday.
In a summons obtained by The Advertiser, AGL Energy said the commission’s draft decision was a breach of the law.
The company also claimed that the draft determination was an improper use of ESCOSA’s powers, as it took into account irrelevant factors when making the determination, while failing to consider other relevant factors.
SA Council of Social Service executive director Ross Womersley said AGL Energy’s actions clearly demonstrated a lack of interest in the rights of the state’s energy consumers.
“AGL Energy have clearly indicated their interest is primarily only in their shareholders,” he said
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/business/sa-business-journal/power-bill-cuts-at-stake-in-agl-fight-against-escosa/story-e6fredel-1226530737639” title=”Power bill cuts at stake in AGL”>