26 September 2023

Power suppliers cooking with gas

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has made it easier for participants in gas and electricity markets to work together to help safeguard Australia’s energy supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ACCC has given the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) interim authorisation to allow market participants to co-operate on certain measures intended to maintain secure and reliable energy supplies.

Market participants are now allowed to share information about the operation of critical facilities and any risks to their continued operation.

“It is essential that Australian businesses and households have access to reliable and efficient energy supplies during this difficult time,” the Chair of ACCC, Rod Sims said.

“There is a clear need for co-operation between industry participants to prevent any disruption to these supplies,” Mr Sims said.

“However, it is important to note that this co-operation cannot extend to making agreements about energy prices or to sharing confidential information about pricing or profits. It will also only take place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are going to closely monitor the effect of these arrangements and assess when it is appropriate for this authorisation to be revoked.”

He said the need for co-operation in the energy sector during the pandemic was raised last month at a meeting of the Energy Council of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

Mr Sims said COAG’s newly formed Energy Coordination Mechanism, made up of government and industry leaders, would be kept informed about measures taken to secure energy supplies. The ACCC will also be informed of such measures through this authorisation.

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