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Questions to

Ms Carolyn Male
Member for Glasshouse, Queensland Government.

Could you answer a few questions in respect to the coming changes
to the electrical industry as they effect the average local resident?

What are the changes being proposed for the electricity industry?

Hundreds of thousands of Queensland electricity consumers will be provided with greater choice and lower prices as a result of the State Government's decision to open the domestic market to competition.    Full retail competition for electricity would be introduced for small businesses and households from 1 July 2007.

Full retail competition means 1.7 million Queensland households and small business will be able to choose the retailer of their electricity.

Currently households and small business in Queensland purchase their electricity from ENERGEX or Ergon Energy and the price charged is set by the Queensland Government.

From 1 July 2007 households and small business will be free to choose where they buy their electricity. Large industrial and commercial electricity customers can already choose who their retailer is.

How will those changes reflect on the individual home occupier?

Electricity consumers will have several choices. Whatever their choice, the supply of electricity will continue to be delivered as always.

Choice 1
Stay with ENERGEX or Ergon Energy and continue to pay the price of electricity set by the Queensland Government. No one has to change and the current service will continue as usual.

Choice 2
Consumers can ask their current retailer, either ENERGEX or Ergon Energy about any new deal they may be offering to retain you as a customer. You can consider what they provide you and either decide to take up the new offer or stay on your existing arrangements.

Choice 3
Shop around and consider offers from retailers other than ENERGEX and Ergon Energy that are licensed in Queensland. These retailers may offer you a better deal.

When are these changes likely to come about?

From 1 July 2007 households and small business will be free to choose where they buy their electricity.

What benefits are seen as coming from these changes?

The government has noted that competition in other industries has provided benefits to customers. For example, competition in the mobile phone industry has led to cheaper phones and call costs and more companies willing to offer services to customers.

Due to the competition that will ensue in the electricity industry, it is considered that the vast majority of the 1.7 million customers would benefit from lower prices with the bill saving for many households expected to be $150 or more in a year.

What this means is electricity consumers can choose to move from existing tariffs if they think they can make savings or receive other benefits.

Are these changes designed to eventually privatise the electrical industry?

This decision is about giving consumers choice, not about privatising the electricity industry. In fact, it ensures that the community service obligation to provide a uniform tariff for those in more remote areas continues through ENERGEX and Ergon Energy. It should also be noted that this initiative relates only to the distribution of electricity, not the generation.

Will these changes have any effect on the needed upgrade of the distribution network?

On 10 July 2005 Energy Minister John Mickel announced that this financial year ENERGEX would invest $658.8 million in capital works to deliver a reliable, secure electricity supply to customers. This includes $536 million for regulated electricity network capital expenditure, including spending $222.7 million on sub-station works, $65.6 million on transmission feeder related works, $16.3 million on distribution feeder related works and $144.4 million on customer-initiated works.

The government is planning for south east Queensland's future electricity needs, particularly in high growth areas. This capital investment in the distribution network will not be effected by the opening up of the distribution market.

Is the network "up to standard" to complete the job for an average South East Queensland Summer without major problems?

In accordance with the requirements of the Electricity Industry Code (2004), ENERGEX has completed detailed preparation and planning for its 2005/06 summer season responses in South East Queensland.

This Summer Preparedness Plan details preparations to the supply network for the upcoming summer to minimise outages of customers’ electricity supply. The planned capital and operating works for the summer total an estimated $210 million.

It also details preparation to manage and minimise the impact of extreme weather events on customers’ electricity supply. The Plan incorporates the current preparation to identify and respond to emergencies that have the potential to impact on customers’ electricity supply. The planned information systems’ capital improvements total an estimated $3.5 million.

While weather patterns are not controllable, or to a large extent fully predictable, ENERGEX is absolutely committed to achieving the best possible storm response during the 2005/06 summer season for its customers. Preparations for summer 2005/06 have four major areas of focus. Firstly, ENERGEX will continue to improve the resilience of the network in times of severe weather. Secondly, the capacity of the network will continue to be significantly increased to meet high summer energy demand. In addition, ENERGEX is committed to further improve its response to network emergencies, and finally, to provide timely and accurate communication with our customers during times of network emergencies.

What action should be taken by the average home occupier to ensure a regular trouble free electrical situation in the home?  -  Click here to go to the Energex Safety Page

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