The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) is launching a landmark legal challenge that has the potential to significantly reduce household electricity bills in South Australia over the next five years.
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) is acting for SACOSS in a legal challenge to the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) recent electricity network revenue decision for SA Power Networks, which operates the electricity distribution network in South Australia.
Spokesperson for SACOSS, Dr Greg Ogle said,
“This is a big, unprecedented step for SACOSS, but we are concerned about the impact of massive electricity bills on vulnerable and disadvantaged households, and as our application suggests, we believe there are significant problems in the AER’s decision”.
SACOSS is appealing the decision that determines how much SA Power Networks can spend on infrastructure – the so-called ‘poles and wires’. SACOSS is disputing the corporate operating costs allowed, as well as the rate for providing a return to investors in SA Power Networks’ business.
These costs are important because they are passed through to South Australian consumers.
SACOSS estimates that, if its appeal is successful, it would lead to savings for average residential consumers of about $150 over five years.
The South Australian appeal follows a similar appeal in NSW, for which the decision is expected by 22 December 2015.
PIAC CEO Edward Santow said,
"It is clear that the revenue granted by the AER to SA Power Networks is excessive, forcing consumers to pay more than is efficient for network services
"Electricity prices have risen exponentially in recent years. We know that consumers are suffering, especially those on low and fixed incomes. The law requires expenditure to be efficient and we don’t believe the final determination reflects efficient costs for consumers".