A new report by the Energy Supply Association of Australia (ESAA) has rated WA and Queensland as the slowest states to complete energy market reforms that started in the early 1990’s. The results were based on a survey of the nation’s electricity markets, scoring each state on a range of criteria including competition, deregulation and pricing policies.

The leader was Victoria, which scored 15.5 out of 20, in second place was South Australia with 11 out of 20. Victoria was praised for its proactive steps at reducing rising costs, and scored well on every criteria except planning, one of the reasons was because of additional wind farm exclusion rules that could possibly affect future renewable projects. South Australia similarly, was scored well for its privatisation of generation, network and retail sectors of the energy market. NSW is singled out for a scheme that will cost $1.8 billion and will be paid for via higher electricity prices until 2018.

Despite the recent federal -led plan agreed on at the Council of Australian Governments meeting, Victoria’s Premier Ted Baillieu said that Victorians would gain more from the flow-on benefits of existing deregulation. Significant criticism has also come from the claim that the COAG agreement would save Australian households on average $250.

The report warns against the heavy handed State Government interference in the operation of the energy market. Citing in Queensland that “Rather than promoting competition and driving greater efficiencies within the sector, successive Queensland Governments have undermined earlier reforms with unhelpful political interference.” referring to energy sector reforms of the late 1990s. Slowed energy sector reform is cited as one of the reasons the price rises were not curbed over the last 5 years. Western Australia still has significant scope for reform, starting much later than other states, however, WA scored well in planning and energy schemes, despite not offering a premium feed in tariff scheme for solar. WA was criticised for its lack of competition, fixed prices and state revenue funding retail subsidies.