Suzanna Sheed raises power bill issue

By Thomas Moir

Suzanna Sheed has called on the Victorian Government to sign up to the National Energy Guarantee to remove the uncertainty around power bills locally and nationally.

The State Member for Shepparton argued the Victorian Government should ‘‘get on with it’’, given the absence of ‘‘a good, effective energy policy for a long time’’.

State and territory energy ministers are today set to meet to examine the detail of the NEG, which the federal Coalition claims will reduce household power bills by about $550 a year.

The Victorian Government had this week made it clear that if the policy as it stood this week did not have the support of the federal Coalition party room, it would not get Labor’s support.

Ms Sheed said people were ‘‘tired of it’’, that businesses and households were ‘‘calling for certainty’’ around electricity prices and ‘‘the ability to plan how they go forward’’.

‘‘I’m hearing energy prices are one of (locals’) biggest concerns,’’ she said.

Citing the $550 per year proposed saving, Ms Sheed said electricity price reductions were ‘‘something people want to see’’.

Ms Sheed said Victoria should sign up to the guarantee and not stand in the way.

‘‘Adding more conditions all the time isn’t in any way helpful to business or communities. I don’t think we should be standing in the way with what is a possible solution that many are getting on board with,’’ she said.

Ms Sheed said she had heard plenty of stories of energy ‘‘bill shock’’ experienced locally, including from orchards.

‘‘Continued uncertainty of where it’s heading is really detrimental to our local businesses,’’ she said.

The Victorian Government had this week demanded a series of changes to the policy — that the emissions reduction target be determined by regulation, not legislation, there be reviews every three years instead of the proposed five-yearly reviews, and a transparency register to ensure the scheme works in consumers’ best interests.

‘‘We won’t support any scheme that puts our renewable energy industry and Victorian jobs at risk,’’ Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said this week.

Ms D’Ambrosio on Wednesday called on the prime minister to ‘‘stand up to the climate sceptics in his party room and back real investment in clean energy, real jobs in the renewable industry and real action on climate change’’.

Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said the state risked blackouts and higher energy prices by failing to support the NEG.

— with AAP