Energy price gouging allegations will be investigated by Australian consumer and energy watchdogs as the nation is gripped by an energy crisis.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Australian Energy Regulator (AER) will conduct a joint probe into alleged market gaming by power companies including energy supply removal and dishonest bidding leading to price manipulation.
ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said the commission would use its "full information gathering powers" to expose anti-competitive conduct and provide greater transparency on factors influencing energy prices for consumers.
"We are working closely with our colleagues at the Australian Energy Regulator to monitor the market and to take action against conduct harming competition or consumers and to preserve the competitiveness of our energy markets," she said.
"We will also assess and bring to the government's attention any need for regulatory change to ensure electricity and gas markets function properly for the benefit of all Australian consumers."
Details of the planned investigation prompted by the energy crisis and suspension of the electricity spot market, came with the ACCC's latest report looking into energy prices, supply and profits in the national energy market.
The report found household electricity bills had been falling in 2021 and up until the recent crisis.
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It also showed the impact of consumer cost-saving measures including shopping around for better value energy plans and installing solar panels, and revealed those experiencing financial hardship had the most costly bills due to their higher electricity usage.
Ms Cass-Gottlieb said the ACCC would monitor electricity retailer pricing and could take power companies to court if they tried to mislead customers.
"Working jointly with the AER, we have written to energy retailers to remind them of their obligations in relation to electricity prices under the Competition and Consumer Act and the National Electricity Retail Code," she said.
Ms Cass-Gottlieb said the probe's findings would be released in July.
She said the release date of the ACCC's next energy market inquiry report, which would take a closer look at the impact of the energy crisis on consumers - usually in November - would also be reviewed.
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