INDEPENDENT candidate for the upcoming Victorian election Steve Timmis , PICTURED, has vowed to create a “community-owned electricity retailer” to reduce the cost of electricity for Mildura and Mallee residents.

Making the pledge yesterday, Mr Timmis said the retailer, ‘Mallee Power,’ would only be made available to people living in the Mildura electorate.

“It will be set up as a not-for-profit business, with the cost benefits to be passed directly onto the customer,” he said. “Most electricity retailers currently make in excess of 20 percent profit.

“The ability to purchase power at wholesale prices, and pass it directly onto Mildura residents, without placing profit margins on top, will benefit us all immediately.”

Mr Timmis said the Australian Energy Regulator currently manages the registration and compliance of energy retailers, with 84 currently available Australia-wide.

“While there are compliance guidelines that must be met, a community-owned retailer is very achievable,” he said. “The longer-term answer to solving the soaring electricity cost crisis is to head towards the generation and storage of electricity where the power is going to be used.

“For us in Mildura, the simple answer is solar and batteries. Whether that be in a household, in a business, or on a large-scale farm, we as a community should be heading toward this end goal, and be encouraging electricity generation and storage in every way possible.

“This will, in time, alleviate the stress on our grid system, and bring the cost of electricity back to a controllable and sustainable level.”

Mr Timmis described current policies like the SA Government’s $6000 battery subsidy, the Victorian Government’s 50 percent subsidy for household solar, the environmental upgrade agreement for businesses, $1000 rebates for solar hot water systems and the Victorian Government’s Renewable Energy Targets as good starting points.

“These are all good policies, and should be expanded to include low income earners, renters and retirees,” he said. “These are the people who need more help to access the benefits of the renewable revolution.

“These policies, however, are in stark contrast with the National Party’s plan to scrap renewable energy targets, and anything that supports it, so they can build more coal-powered generators.

“The Nationals scaremongering tactics with the threats of blackouts if we head down the renewable path does not make for sound economic, social, technical or environmental policy. The Nationals are very firm on coal power, and let’s also not forget that The Nationals sold off the State Electricity Commission, and this alone is the fundamental cause of our bill shock every quarter.

“The authority was created in 1921 to provide cheap energy for the State, using the abundant brown coal reserves of Gippsland. Under the guidance of engineer and soldier Sir John Monash, among others, this is largely what it did for the next 70 years.

“The 1992 election changed that. The SEC was lined up by the new government, which claimed that the authority was laden with debt and had to be privatised.

“This, despite the fact that in its last year of operation it paid $995million in interest, a $191million dividend to the State, and had a profit of $207million.

“We can’t unscramble eggs, the reality is that electricity will now and forever be privatised, what we must now do is control our own destiny, and enter the electricity market as a community business, not just a price taker.”