Households could save more than $400 a year on power bills under a proposed major reset of Australia’s “broken” electricity market.
Businesses could also save up to $750 a year, and even as much as $2250 if they shop around for the best discounts.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released its long-awaited report into the energy sector on Wednesday, detailing ways to tackle skyrocketing power costs.
A key measure is forcing retailers to offer a benchmark price near the middle of the market, to end confusing and deceptive discounts.
“We cannot trust the retailers to set their own default prices to consumers,” ACCC chair Rod Sims told reporters on Wednesday.
He estimates bills could drop up to 25 per cent for the average household if the report’s 56 recommendations are all implemented.
Mr Sims said a decade of poor policy decisions had caused serious affordability problems for consumers and businesses.
“The national electricity market is largely broken and needs to be reset,” Mr Sims said.
More than two million small and medium businesses could save an average of 24 per cent on their bills under the ACCC’s recommendations.
Commercial and industrial customers could see electricity costs drop by 26 per cent.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said power companies have taken advantage of customers for too long.
“Australians are crying out for an energy policy that is focused on them,” he told an event in Brisbane on Wednesday.
“Lower prices, put the customer first, that’s my goal.”
The ACCC wants the Australian Energy Regulator to be given more powers to target market manipulation, and a cap put on future mergers or acquisitions for companies with more than 20 per cent market share.
It also recommends governments effectively bankroll the construction of new dispatchable power sources by guaranteeing long-term contracts for large industrial and commercial users.
Some coalition backbenchers argue this means supporting a new coal-fired power plant, but Mr Turnbull said it will be up to the market to decide which generation method it wants to pursue.
The prime minister wants the states to adopt his national energy guarantee, which is aimed at bringing down prices while guaranteeing reliability and cutting emissions.
Mr Sims said the national energy guarantee was “a necessary step” to bring affordability to the market.
Labor energy spokesman Mark Butler said power prices had skyrocketed under Mr Turnbull, arguing divisions within the coalition had led to uncertainty.
“The ACCC report is the culmination of Malcolm Turnbull’s failures to produce an energy policy that his party room will allow him to tick off on,” he said.
The ACCC inquiry was commissioned in March 2017 by Treasurer Scott Morrison.