Energy Minister Martin Ferguson unveiled the Federal government’s final energy white paper today in Melbourne with a strong message to the state governments to use ‘courage’ to tackle the escalating electricity prices we’re seeing over the past few years (in some cases power bills have risen more than 80%) according to an audit by the Australian Energy Regulator.

Mr Ferguson says the states should follow Victoria’s lead and deregulate electricity tariffs. He also said they can go a step further and introduce smart meters and time of day pricing. It’s a clear signal the government is reacting to community concerns over the constant price rises and buck passing with Mr Ferguson saying: “I believe it is time to move beyond the blame game on high prices and work to minimise future pressures by ensuring markets, regulatory frameworks and their institutions operate in the long-term interests of consumers”.

Parts of the white paper appear to have bipartisan support with opposition Energy spokesman, Ian Macfarlane saying the smart meters can help families lower their electricity bills and supporting the move to deregulate state electricity supply. He also said Victoria has the lowest transmission charges because their network is privatised and other states would need encouragement to go private saying on ABC Radio: “’But you won’t get the states to do what needs to be done by politicising the issue as Julia Gillard has done or by waving a big stick at them”.

It’s no secret Australians are becoming increasingly jaded with government at both the state and federal levels surrounding electricity prices and the increased cost of living. Making the switch to solar energy is not only going save money (the initial investment is typically paid off in less than 10 years), you’re also doing your part for a cleaner environment.