The national competition watchdog will conduct a forensic investigation into spiralling energy prices, including an urgent assessment of power companies that are accused of gaming the market by withdrawing electricity supply during last week’s crisis that sparked rolling blackout warnings.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said she had a “real breadth of powers” for the investigation into power companies’ behaviour, which will be conducted with the Australian Energy Regulator (AER).
The inquiry will examine potentially unlawful conduct including possible collusion between big power generators, which made bids to sell electricity into the market last week, she said.
Cass-Gottlieb said the ACCC has the power to compel power companies to open their books so she and the regulator can determine “if there were false or misleading bidding, including failing to bid on the spot market with the purpose of manipulating or distorting prices”.
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