Grumpy coalition backbenchers have made another effort to influence the national energy guarantee, calling for a focus on prices not emissions.

The government’s signature energy policy is due to go to the states and territories in coming weeks, aiming to reduce power bills, cut emissions and increase reliability.

But several backbenchers told the coalition party room the emphasis on cutting the amount of chemicals pumped into the air was wrong.

Instead, they argued the plan should focus on reducing prices and improving reliability for businesses.

One MP said when the coalition talks about emissions Labor wins, so it was better to talk about prices instead.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said Tomago Aluminium, BlueScope Steel and others strongly supported the national energy guarantee because it focused on reliability for the first time.

He also said Australia would meet its Paris targets though steady changes, rather than a sudden influx of renewable energy.

Mr Frydenberg said three energy retailers had already begun to reduce prices.

But former prime minister Tony Abbott told The Australian the plan is a “carbon tax in disguise” and he won’t support it unless a new coal-fired power station is built.

Labor has labelled the national energy guarantee as “ineffectual”.