AGL to cut bills after Government threat
ENERGY giant AGL has become the first power retailer to offer its customers automatic discounts after the Morrison government threatened to hit recalcitrant companies with a "big stick".
Households and businesses in NSW which get their power bills through AGL will see a 10 per cent discount automatically applied to their bill from January 1 if they are not already receiving a cheap offer.
More than 150,000 household electricity customers across Australia will pocket an average annual saving of between $50 and $180 off the standing offer.
The peace offering to NSW customers is one of the first major announcements by AGL since the resignation in August of CEO Andy Vesey who was widely criticised for the company's decision to shut down the Liddell coal-fired power station in 2022.
The country's energy authorities found the move could leave NSW short of power supplies.
Mr Vesey drew the ire of the Coalition government when he refused to sell the Hunter Valley plant or extend its life despite the warnings.
AGL interim chief executive Brett Redman said the "safety net" would protect families and businesses from hefty bills.
"At any time, customers can get in touch to seek a better deal and we encourage them to do so. The safety net is in place for customers who do not get in touch," he said.
The Daily Telegraph revealed last month that Energy Minister Angus Taylor had written to power retailers to demand that reductions in wholesale electricity prices - saving the companies millions - were "passed on to electricity consumers in full" by January 1.
If delivered it would mean about $90 annual saving for the average household and ensure retailers avoid being hit with a "big stick" including threats of forced asset sales.
Mr Taylor yesterday commended AGL for being the first to respond to government demands. "I urge the other energy companies to follow AGL's lead and address concerns on energy affordability," he said.
"Current standing offer prices are a loyalty tax on those who have stayed with their energy company or don't have time to shop around. Customers should be rewarded for loyalty - not punished."
Mr Taylor said retailer action was an excellent "first step" in ensuring all Australians got a better deal on electricity which he said was "an essential service".
"Rising power prices are impacting household budgets and are stopping small businesses from growing and employing more staff," he said.
Savings will differ state to state, with NSW and Victoria seeing the biggest reductions.