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Tribunal rules against SA power price hike

AAP logoAAP 27/10/2016

The South Australian Government has called on the state's electricity provider to accept a ruling blocking a further hike in power prices, declaring that customers have had enough of paying more.

A decision from the Australian Competition Tribunal on Friday has saved consumers from what Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis says would have been a "devastating" power price increase.

The treasurer says SA Power Networks should now rule out appealing the decision further and move on.

"This determination is a big victory for the people of South Australia," Mr Koutsantonis said.

"Quite frankly South Australians have had enough of paying more to monopoly providers of our privatised assets, that we built, that we made profitable and that were sold out from underneath us. Enough is enough."

Friday's ruling follows a move by the Australian Energy Regulator to block a revenue increase requested by SA Power Networks (SAPN), which operates the poles and wires in South Australia, for the period from 2015-2020.

SAPN had asked to raise $4.53 billion over that period but the regulator said $3.84 billion would be sufficient to run an efficient network and provide a safe and reliable service.

That prompted the company to appeal the decision in the tribunal where it asked for at least an additional $250 million.

In a statement the regulator said the tribunal found no errors in its original determination.

"We understand that electricity bills are a concern to many households and businesses in South Australia," AER chair Paula Conboy said.

"Today's decision will help provide some predictability and stability in distribution network prices over the next four years."

SAPN described the tribunal's decision as extensive, complex and highly technical.

"We will undertake a detailed review of the judgment before determining what further action we may take, if any," the company said in a statement.

With distribution costs making up 35 per cent of annual electricity bills, Mr Koutsantonis said the tribunal's decision would help both households and the business sector.

"The price increases would have had a devastating impact on costs for families and businesses," he said.

Opposition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan welcomed the tribunal's decision but said the ruling would only save households about $60 a year.

"While the electricity regulator is doing its job properly to protect consumers from unwarranted increases in distribution costs, what is really hurting consumers is the increase in generation costs," he said.

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