Your power bill’s about to get cheaper

Mr Frydenberg was asked about the recent 20 per cent drop in wholesale power prices and whether consumers should expect to see this passed on to consumers.

“There are a lot of factors at play, but certainly we are expecting to see power prices come down,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra today.

While he said “I don’t know what the number will be”, Mr Frydenberg said he had made it clear to energy bosses that he expected falls in wholesale power prices to be passed on.

The wholesale power price generally makes up about a third of people’s power bills.

“We already have seen Power Shop and Alinta this year reduce power prices,” he said.

“July is the next period in which energy companies will adjust their prices.”

Meanwhile he has some fiery comments for ideological “extremists” hurting electricity consumers and ignoring “home truths”.

Mr Frydenberg said the political brawl was preventing reductions in electricity accounts which could be brought in as soon as next year should the Federal Government policy be adopted.

He said the polarised energy policy debate had become an arena for political battlelines rather than based on engineering.

“Certainly it’s a message to people who are saying decarbonise the economy virtually overnight without seeing an important, ongoing role for fossil fuels and back-up and storage,” the minister said.

Australian Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg delivers his address to the National Press Club in Canberra earlier today. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP

Australian Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg delivers his address to the National Press Club in Canberra earlier today. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAPSource:AAP

“And it was also a message to those who are saying, ‘Let’s nationalise our energy assets’.”

However, his speech was seen to be aimed primarily at critics of energy policy within the Government, and a defence of its National Energy Guarantee which Mr Frydenberg hopes the states will sign up for next week.

Mr Frydenberg said policies were being judged by who supported them, not on their merits. This was a reference to the debate being used to damage the leadership of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“Sadly, positions today are being based on ideology not engineering,” said the minister in a strong counter attack on critics.

“Ideas are being judged on their provenance, not their merits. Energy policy in Australia is no longer simply an economic issue. It has also become a cultural one.

“As politicians set their battlelines, it is consumers who are the casualties. This is the hard truth.

“The future of energy policy must be determined by the proper consideration of the public’s best interest not ideologically driven predisposition.

“The answer lies neither in a war on coal nor the nationalisation of our energy assets.”

Mr Frydenberg did not name the targets of his attack, but Bill Shorten did it for him.

The Opposition Leader identified former prime minister Tony Abbott whose first stop on a Pollie Pedal charity bike ride was the shutdown Hazelwood power station.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott at Warragul before taking part in the Pollie Pedal Bike Ride through Gippsland, Victoria on Monday. Picture: Joe Castro/AAP

Former prime minister Tony Abbott at Warragul before taking part in the Pollie Pedal Bike Ride through Gippsland, Victoria on Monday. Picture: Joe Castro/AAPSource:AAP

Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten speaking to the media in Perth yesterday. Picture: Tony McDonough/AAP

Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten speaking to the media in Perth yesterday. Picture: Tony McDonough/AAPSource:AAP

“This Government is spending a lot of time worrying about Tony Abbott on a bicycle near a closed coal-fired power station and not enough about lower energy prices for people,” he told reporters in Perth.

The attacks on the NEG could prevent cuts in electricity prices, said Mr Frydenberg. He called the scheme “the first and best opportunity for Australia “ to lower bills.

“According to independent modelling, wholesale prices will fall on average by 23 per cent over the decade 2020 to 2030,” he said.

“Households will be $300 a year better off compared to Labor’s policy. A vote against the guarantee is a vote for higher prices, higher emissions and less reliability.”

Mr Frydenberg said it was time for “a frank assessment of the polarised political debate on energy and climate and the high price we are paying for it”.

“It’s time to tell some home truths,” he said.

“This is a practical problem not one which extreme ideologies can solve.

“We need to find sensible, workable, affordable market based solutions that meet the requirements of the Australian people.

“The alternative is policy paralysis, more expensive short term government interventions and higher prices that will be paid by the public either as a consumer or taxpayer.”

He said the NEG was “the most practical means of delivering a more affordable and reliable energy system while meeting our international commitments” on emission reductions, particularly the Paris Agreement.

“The guarantee has the fundamental virtue of using the effectiveness of the market and freeing up the policy debate. It addresses the policy and market failure and cuts through the polarisation to integrate energy and climate policy,” Mr Frydenberg said.

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