Australia

Electricity prices on watchdog's radar

Energy retailers have to advertise their prices compared to a default price set by the government (AAP)

It's now easier for Australians to compare electricity deals and people can save hundreds on their bills, under new rules enforced by the consumer watchdog.

It's now easier for Australian households to compare electricity prices on offer from energy giants under rules imposed on the sector.

The competition watchdog will be enforcing the new Electricity Retail Code from Monday, which ensures retailers advertise their prices compared to a default price set by the government.

The code obliges energy giants to cap their standing offers in line with a default price set by the Australian Energy Retailer, and to move clients currently on standing offers onto the lower price.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will monitor the market and make sure retailers comply with the new code, to ensure they are not charging more than allowed.

ACCC chair Rod Sims says consumers should use the AER's new website Energy Made Easy to compare deals.

"We know electricity is a big expense for many householders and we encourage all consumers regardless of what offer they are currently on to look around for a better deal, which will now be much easier to do," he said.

"When customers see advertisements with percentage discounts now, they will know that these discounts are off the same base. They will also know exactly how the advertised discounts will apply."

Energy Minister Angus Taylor says electricity prices will now be capped for nearly 800,000 customers on standing offers in southeast Queensland, NSW and South Australia.

"We are stopping energy companies from taking advantage of their loyal customers by artificially inflating their standing offer prices," he said.

The minister says some people could save more than $600 a year on their bills, while businesses could save thousands.

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