Morrison’s power play over state assets
THE Morrison Government has warned it will underwrite and control a new power station in Queensland if Annastacia Palaszczuk does not break up state-owned electricity generation assets.
In an extraordinary threat, Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the Federal Government was serious about intervening in Queensland's energy market because households were being charged too much.
It came as Prime Minister Scott Morrison exclusively told News Queensland: "The big energy companies are the ones who are putting the prices up and the big energy company that is keeping the prices up is the Queensland State Government.
"They own it, they are the company, they're pulling out the dividends, putting them in their pocket to prop up their budget while Queenslanders are paying too much for their electricity."
Responding to The Courier-Mail's exclusive report which yesterday revealed southeast Queensland residents were paying about $460 a year too much due to the domination of government-owned corporations, Mr Taylor said the state needed a third "like-for-like generator" to boost competition.
He said the Government would by December introduce its "big stick" legislation to bring fairness to the power sector and by early next year compile a short-list of projects the Commonwealth could underwrite.
"This is government versus government. This is not government versus private sector,'' Mr Taylor said.
"We call on the Queensland Government to set up a third generator with a balance of generation. We need more competition.
"(If it doesn't) we will underwrite a third power (generator)."
Mr Taylor said the new power generator needed to produce "24/7' dispatchable power.
He pointed to a recent Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report that said: "The Queensland Government should divide its generation assets into three generation portfolios to reduce market concentration in Queensland, with each portfolio separately owned and operated to drive competition in generation market".
He dismissed the State Government's announcement in August that CleanCo, Queensland's new publicly owned renewable energy generator, was enough of an injection of competition.
In 2011, three state-owned generators CS Energy, Stanwell Corporation Limited and Tarong Energy Corporation Limited were consolidated into the two existing companies.
Today, Stanwell has coal, gas and hydro power stations; and CS Energy has coal and pumped hydro.
State Energy Minister Anthony Lynham accused Mr Taylor of trying to push Queensland into selling assets and not being "across what's happening in Queensland".
"The ACCC recommended Queensland divide and sell its generation assets. I'm sure Mr Taylor is focusing on the selling,'' Dr Lynham said.
"We are already dividing our generation assets to create CleanCo, a third, publicly-owned energy generation company with a strategic portfolio of low and no-emission power generation assets, and will build, construct, own and maintain renewable energy generation.
"The Palaszczuk Government's actions are already seeing electricity prices decrease and this has been acknowledged by the ACCC."
Meanwhile, AGL yesterday announced it would introduce new systems to identify and support
customers who may be in financial hardship.