Australia: Buying group given antitrust waiver for electricity

Australia’s antitrust regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), said it plans to let two dozen companies in the state of South Australia bargain collectively for electricity purchasing contracts, saying the move would guarantee supply and improve competition.

The country’s fifth biggest state, which is heavily dependent on wind and solar energy, was crippled by several power outages last year after heavy winds knocked out an interstate power connector and cut electricity to residents and industry.

A “buying group” of 24 miners, winemakers, grocery stores, universities and other companies representing about a sixth of the state’s energy consumption has meanwhile said it wants to bargain collectively for power contracts to bring down prices that have been criticized as too high.

On Thursday the ACCC said it had made a draft determination to waive anti-cartel laws and allow the companies to bargain collectively for 11 years.

“The proposed conduct … has a real chance of changing the wholesale market dynamics, where it allows existing participants to use existing plant more efficiently, or allowing new entry of electricity generation into South Australia,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

Full Content: Reuters

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.