MELBOURNE May 24 Australia's biggest power
distributors on Wednesday won a court fight that could earn them
close to A$3 billion ($2.2 billion) more in revenue over five
years, boosting the prospects of recently privatised Ausgrid and
In a decision that will stoke concern over soaring power and
gas bills, the Federal Court ruled against a push by the
country's energy regulator to force electricity networks in the
state of New South Wales and the nation's capital Canberra to
cut their charges over the five years to 2019.
"This decision is disappointing for New South Wales and ACT
(Australian Capital Territory) electricity and gas customers
overall. It may also have implications for customers in other
states," Australian Energy Regulator (AER) Chair Paula Conboy
said in a statement.
The federal government, under pressure from manufacturers
and households facing rocketing gas prices which have also
driven up power prices, also criticised the decision.
"Network businesses only appeal against the decision of the
AER if they want to slug consumers more," Environment and Energy
Minister Josh Frydenberg said in a statement.
Network operators said it was too early to say what the full
impact of Wednesday's decision would be.
The AER had proposed allowing four major energy networks to
earn total revenue of A$14.2 billion over five years, or about a
third less than the companies had sought, based on a view that
they needed to cut their operating costs.
Endeavour Energy, which was sold for A$7.6 billion to a
consortium led by Macquarie Group this month, said its
average network charges for households and small businesses
would fall by around 4.5 percent in real terms from July 1, and
the court's decision would not change that.
"We remain committed to keeping downward pressure on network
charges, while delivering the safe and reliable electricity
supply expected by customers," Endeavour's acting chief
executive Rod Howard said in a statement.
($1 = 1.3434 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Joseph Radford)