ActewAGL customers to face full price rise from July
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ActewAGL customers to face full price rise from July

The ACT's biggest electricity provider plans to pass on its maximum allowable price rise of 14.29 per cent from July, with residential customers facing a $299 increase to their annual bills, unless they take up a one-year discount offer.

ActewAGL will pass on the full price rise allowed by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission, after the commission decided the increase would be allowed, based largely on rising wholesale prices in the past 24 months, which have since fallen.

Canberrans face a nearly 15 per cent increase in their electricity bills from July this year.

Canberrans face a nearly 15 per cent increase in their electricity bills from July this year.

Photo: Virginia Star

While the electricity provider has offered residential customers a 25 per cent off-market discount, that offer comes with conditions including that it only runs for one year, customers must sign up online and submit to direct debit withdrawal to pay their bills.

It comes after ACT Energy Minister Shane Rattenbury last week wrote to ActewAGL's chief executive officer, Michael Costello, urged him to explain whether the energy retailer would pass on the full costs, in the wake of price cuts by AGL in three other states on the National Electricity Market.

Mr Rattenbury said that if ActewAGL did decide to pass on the full increase to customers, he would be looking for it to justify the price rise, given the moves interstate.

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But the territory's biggest energy retailer would not comment on that "ministerial correspondence" on Monday, and its spokeswoman would say only that the provider's standard retail contract were "always aligned" with the commission's determinations.

She said in a statement that the commission had explained that its decision to allow the increase reflected "the prudent and efficient costs of ActewAGL Retail supplying electricity to customers".

ActewAGL's customers will see the impacts of the price rise in their first quarterly bill for 2018-19, expected out in October, which will equate to an average of about a 12 per cent real increase, or about $5 a week.

The energy retailer has offered the 25 per cent price discount on its market offers, which, after the forecast $299 average annual increase is taken into account, would equate to an average saving of $500 a year.

As most residential customers in Canberra are on standard retail contracts, the trade off for those switching would be that the price is variable, according to market conditions, and the discount will only apply for 12 months, at which point customers will be put on new plans and notified of any difference in the cost.

It comes as AGL's branches in NSW Queensland and South Australia make cuts to their electricity prices, and new ACT market entrant Origin Energy looks to attract new customers by freezing its price at 2017-18 levels, with no increase for the next fiscal year.

Daniel Burdon

Daniel Burdon is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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