The defensive reaction by rorting state governments to Canberra's energy white paper is only to be expected – examples of high principles and pursuit of best practice over political expediency aren't easily found in the provinces.

And while the dividends sucked out of electricity by the New South Wales and Queensland governments alone would almost make a banker blush, they happily apply double standards to matters as simple as billing.

It's a somewhat petty matter but still worth hundreds of millions to point out that the O'Farrell government forces NSW electricity retailers to print one-sided political propaganda on their bills, but not to provide information that would save consumers significant money.

Exhibit A: my AGL electricity bill. Jimmy Packer's little mates force AGL to include on the front page in prominent red type the claim that “the federal carbon tax and green energy schemes add about $316 a year to the typical household bill”.

No estimate of how much NSW schemes and dud policies add to the bill of course – let's just point in the other direction and run away.

More importantly, while the government is forcing AGL to feed me selective political information, it doesn't make AGL print on the bill just when it charges me peak, off-peak and shoulder tariffs, i.e. something useful.

Oh, page three of three in the small print informs me that I pay 47.77¢ per kWh, 19.4¢ per kWh for shoulder tariff and just 11.9¢ for off peak, but nowhere is there anything as useful as exactly when is peak, off-peak and shoulder.

For anyone concerned about their electricity bill, this is important information. For example, a pool pump can allegedly use more energy than your clothes dryer, washing machine and dish washer combined, so there are some serious pennies adding up if you run said pool pump between the hours of 10pm and 7am instead of 2 and 8pm. Running in peak hours costs 301 per cent more.

It took more than 10 minutes on the phone today to find out from AGL when the peak, off-peak and shoulder periods are. Apparently that information was in the original waffle pack when a timed meter was installed back whenever. As an average sort of consumer, I'd bet plenty of people don't know.

And that suits AGL and the NSW government just fine – they make more money that way.

Michael Pascoe is a BusinessDay contributing editor.