Zero interest in state's energy market

TASMANIAN households will be stuck paying Aurora Retail power bills indefinitely with no new electricity retailers showing any interest in offering deals to residential customers.

Competition will be allowed in the residential and small business sector of the energy market for the first time on July 1, but market experts say there are no signs of any new providers.

Goanna Energy consultant Marc White said only one of the five biggest national electricity retailers had limited plans to participate in the newly opened market.

Mr White said that the company, believed to be ERM Business Energy, would not be trying to poach household customers from Aurora, but may target some of the 30,000 small businesses that will also be given a choice of power provider from next month.

There are about 30 second and third-tier electricity retailers operating interstate, but Mr White said there had been no attempt by any of them to advertise in the state. 

``We're not seeing any evidence that it's going to be a highly active July 1 market,'' Mr White said.

``We're seeing a lack of action and that makes us assume it will be a relatively soft market start.'' 

Mr White, a member of the government's new Energy Working Group, said the different wholesale market, limited room to make a profit and high number of customers relying on concessions was unappealing to electricity retailers. 

Mr White welcomed the increased competition for small businesses in the state, with affiliate company Tasmanian Energy Brokers observing more interest from retailers, particularly targeting companies that also had a large business.

Full retail contestability was a key plank of the previous government's energy reforms - which were supported by the Liberal Party - but its plans were derailed when the sale of Aurora's customer base to two new players was aborted. 

The government decided to press ahead with some of the changes, leaving Aurora's retail arm to continue operating and face competition from July 1.

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