Treasurer Jim Chalmers said Tuesday he had asked consumer watchdogs to investigate whether electricity companies had violated any rules when they withdrew their bid to supply electricity last week.
The National Competition Watchdog has been asked to launch a forensic study of energy prices, including a quick assessment of electricity companies, which Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said has “essentially played out in the market”.
This was stated by the Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Gina Cass-Gottlieb Aging and Sydney Tomorrow Herald the study will examine potentially illegal anti-competitive behavior from the major electricity producers.
The East Coast energy crisis has put pressure on consumers facing higher electricity and gas bills, and large power companies facing runaway prices for fossil fuels and supply problems.
The parent company of EnergyAustralia, the country’s third-largest generator, warned investors it was heading for a six-month loss due to “challenging and extreme” market conditions. The Hong Kong-listed CLP Group said power outages at EnergyAustralia’s Yallourn coal plant in Victoria and Mt Piper in NSW had driven a $ 1.1 billion drop in earnings since January, forcing the company to buy more expensive electricity on the wholesale market.
“Australia is in the midst of an unprecedented energy shock,” said Mark Collette, chief executive.
“The four key problems affecting electricity supply and prices are the rain that saw coal mines flooded and supply cut off; generator outages; weather patterns that have meant lower wind and solar generation; and the war in Ukraine that has brought Australian coal export prices and gas to increase by more than 150 per cent.
Enova Energy, a smaller NSW electricity company, was put into voluntary administration on Tuesday, declaring soaring costs and imposing price caps had made it “impossible” to remain viable.
“The market is ruined and does not support small retailers,” said top manager Felicity Stening.
Enova, which described itself as Australia’s first community-owned electricity retailer, supplied 13,200 customers across NSW and south-east Queensland.
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