SEQ customers can dump power contracts for $20

ELECTRICITY company customers in south-east Queensland will only have to pay electricity providers a maximum $20 exit fee if they want to cancel their contracts.

The change makes up part of new Queensland Government energy legislation and was based on a recommendation by the Queensland Council of Social Service.

The Queensland Competition Authority will no longer regulate electricity prices in south-east Queensland from July next year.

QCOSS essential services manager Carly Allen said the move would encourage people to shop around for the best prices.

The government quoted a St Vincent de Paul Society study that found consumers could save up to $475 a year by shopping around.

The changes also mean retailers must provide at least 10 business days' notice of impending price changes and exit fees.

Ms Allen said they were pleased to see a stronger requirement for providers to help people with hardships.

But it will be some years before all the changes will trickle down to regional areas with only one energy provider.

Ms Allen said there was still some work the government had to do before more energy retailers would be enticed to regional areas.

Opposition energy spokesman Curtis Pitt said the LNP had decided they could not deliver lower electricity prices as promised, so the LNP was now wiping their hands of the situation with the new legislation.

Mr Pitt said the Energy and Water Ombudsman's last annual report stated the number of electricity and gas complaints that had been finalised by that agency had risen from 11,634 in 2008-2009 to 13,239 in the 2012-2013 year.

Billing issues were by far the most common complaint that residential and business customers had with their electricity provider, he told parliament on Wednesday.

- APN NEWSDESK



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