Queensland’s opposition wants a parliamentary inquiry to look at whether Energex manipulated data to boost electricity prices and revenue.
The Queensland opposition wants an inquiry into claims Energex bosses looked at ways to manipulate data to increase power prices.
A former treasury analyst at government-owned Energex alleges she was asked by her managers to examine ways to drive up revenue in mid-2013.
However, it isn’t known whether these figures were included in a report sent to the Australian Energy Regulation (AER), which considers this information when setting power price caps.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk says the allegations are alarming.
“These are serious allegations that need a thorough investigation by not only the regulator, but I also believe that there should be a parliamentary inquiry into this matter,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
“Families can simply not afford these massive price increases, and was it deliberate, was Energex doing this deliberately to deceive Queensland families.”
Premier Campbell Newman says he wants to speak to Cally Wilson, the former analyst who made the claims.
“I would like to see some information on that and I’m not aware of any representations made by the lady concerned,” he told reporters.
Mr Newman says the government had already asked the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) to look into the issue of power prices.
“We are on the case in this one as well, we want power prices to see downward pressure,” he said.
Ms Wilson told The Courier-Mail that in mid-2013 her bosses asked her to look for a debt interest rate that would make it look like ongoing costs, such as capital investment and debt, were greater than they actually were.
At the time Energex was preparing a report to the AER which takes into account a firm’s outgoing costs when setting power price caps every five years.
An Energex spokesman said work carried out by the firm in 2013 has no impact on the final outcome on the targeted weighted average cost of capital set by the AER.
Costs being sought are significantly lower than the previous five years and the firm was on track to deliver prices below the rate of inflation over the period 2015-20, he said.
The QCA has already been directed by the government to carry out an independent review of Energex’s report before it is handed to the AER next month.
The allegations do not impact power prices consumers pay today as these were set in 2009-10 by regulators.
Ms Wilson, who reportedly quit on Monday, says she plans to take her concerns to the national regulator.