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Public power company to cut costs: Greens

A national publicly-owned energy retailer will save households at least $200 a year on their power bills, the Greens say.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale wants to introduce a national energy retailer to focus on the public interest, rather than maximise profits.

The Greens’ plan would see PowerAustralia deliver energy at the lowest cost, after the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission found the average residential customer pays $273 a year in a retail costs and profit.

“By eliminating profits completely, and taking away the excessive spending on advertising, this non-profit public retailer would save an average family around $200 a year,” Senator Di Natale says.

“What people want is a low-cost, no-frills option. They don’t want to pay for advertising.

“They don’t want to pay for the phone calls that interrupt your dinner. They don’t want to pay for the big CEO bonuses and executive pay.”

But Senator Di Natale says the retailer – which would have its own customer base and revenue – will need legal protection to avoid it becoming an attractive asset to be sold off.

Senator Di Natale told the National Press Club that privatisation had failed customers, who had watched prices and company profits rise.

The coalition wants to introduce a default retail price, which will operate as an effective price cap for residents and businesses.

But Senator Di Natale said while it was originally a Greens policy that the government adopted, it doesn’t go far enough.

“Our understanding is that (the default price) would exclude a number of the energy policies that are out there in the market,” he said.

“For-profit energy retailers have not improved the quality of our lives by spending our money mercilessly advertising back to us.

“They have simply captured profits instead of creating value.”

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said she had been a critic of privatisation in the energy sector for many years.

“What we need to focus on now is not rhetorical argument, but actually getting pollution down and getting prices down,” she told reporters.

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