Power shake-up would save Gladstone residents $300 a year
THE OPPOSITION have hit back at claims by the Palaszczuk government that deregulating the electricity market is not economically viable, claiming they can save Gladstone residents at least $300 a year.
Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham told The Observer size and scale of infrastructure made deregulation not viable, but LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said the government's own Productivity Commission report revealed Gladstone residents were being overcharged.
"Labor is dudding every consumer in Gladstone and the LNP will put a stop to it," she said.
"The data shows the average quarterly bill in regional Queensland is $361, while one retailer in the South East charged $264, which in nearly $100 less a quarter.
"It's not right that Brisbane consumers can choose between 27 competing energy retailers while Gladstone consumers are stuck with Ergon.
"Our plan will cut $300 off the average annual bill in Central Queensland and the savings could go even higher."
Ms Frecklington said due to Ergon energy's stranglehold on the Gladstone market, residents were being treated like second class consumers.
To implement the deregulation plan, Ms Frecklington said the LNP would underwrite the regional market costing $200 million per year, less than half the current annual government subsidy of $498 million.
"The LNP will give people in Gladstone the same chance to save money off their bills that everyone in Brisbane already has," she said.
"It's time to break Ergon's grip on Gladstone."
Shadow Energy Minister Michael Hart said the state government currently made huge dividends out of the Gladstone electricity market.
"Retail competition has slashed power bills in southeast Queensland and it's time the regions got better deals too," he said.
"The LNP's plan is backed by the Queensland Productivity Commission's own findings on unfair power prices."
Mr Hart accused the Palaszczuk government of protecting Ergon Energy's monopoly on the Gladstone market.
"If households and businesses in Gladstone want lower bills like Brisbane, it's time to back the LNP," he said.
Ergon Energy were contacted for comment and referred The Observer to Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham.