Community groups support attempt to stop electricity price gouging in South Australia - Solar Citizens

Community groups support attempt to stop electricity price gouging in South Australia

The Total Environment Centre, supported by Solar Citizens, will today apply to the Federal Court to support the defence of a ruling by the Australian Energy Regulator to stop South Australian Power Networks gouging solar rooftop owners.

“Earlier this year SA Power Networks applied to bring in a new tariff for solar households which would have cost them an average of $100 per year. This was sensibly rejected by the regulator”, said Mark Byrne, energy market advocate at the Total Environment Centre.

“But SAPN is not respecting the umpire’s decision. Our role in the case will be to clarify that the electricity rules do not allow networks to discriminate against solar owners under any circumstances.”

Solar Citizens national Director Claire O’Rourke says the move to overturn the AER’s decision on the special solar fee was just the latest attempt by SAPN to discriminate against solar homeowners.

“This is a blatant form of discrimination by SA Power Networks who want to gouge solar homeowners, and are again trying to push through unfair fees onto the solar community by any means possible,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“SA Power Networks majority owner is reported to make 4 times the profit from South Australian households as its business in the UK. There’s no doubt South Australian households are being charged far too much by SA Power Networks.

“South Australia is home to more than 190,000 solar homes with more families going solar every day.

"These are households who have decided to beat the rising costs of electricity by taking power generation into their own hands.

"In the process these solar powered homes reduce the burden on all of South Australians energy, stimulate jobs in the renewable energy industry and create clean, cheap energy that helps all Australians.”

SA Power Networks, the company that owns the poles and wires in South Australia is majority owned by the Hong Kong based Cheung Kong Group following privatisation in 1999.

SA Power Networks is reported to make after-tax profits of $420 a year from each customer in South Australia, while its owner Cheung Kong Group makes only $92 a year from its UK subsidiary UK Power Networks.

“Electricity networks such as SA Power Networks have over-invested $45 billion in new poles and wires over the past five years at a time when Australians are being smarter about using less electricity," said Ms O’Rourke.

This is what has led to Australians suffering the highest electricity prices in the world. Forcing solar owners to pay more for SA Power Networks obscene profits sends the wrong message at a time when more Australians want to invest in solar and take control of their electricity bills."

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533