The VEPC contributes strongly to Australia's energy policy challenges

Associate Professor Bruce Mountain has become one of the most prominent media commentators on Australia’s transition to a new energy future.

In the lead up to the national election, Associate Professor Mountain is often called on to contribute to Australia’s public energy market debate. Bruce is the inaugural director of Victoria University’s Victoria Energy Policy Centre, launched last June to explore policy challenges in energy in Australia, with a focus on Victoria.

Most recently, a VEPC working paper found that the exercise of market power after the closure of Hazelwood power station in the Latrobe Valley in April 2017 delivered a price shock in wholesale markets, and had a major impact on producers’ profits.

The research, which was featured on the ABC’s 7.30 Report on Monday 25 March and widely in the media, indicated that some of Australia’s biggest energy companies increased their wholesale revenues by $3 billion and that almost all of this was passed through to consumers.

“We now have a great multi-disciplinary team – Steven Percy, Siobhan McCluskey, Stephanie Rizio and Dong Wang. Our research agenda: retail energy markets, wholesale electricity markets in the transition to renewables and the economics of electricity storage is being developed,” he said.

“The Centre’s first reports on the National Energy Guarantee, the impact of renewable electricity generation on electricity prices, and the role of market power in explaining electricity prices after Hazelwood power station closed have been well received by the public, stakeholders and media.”

“This research raises obvious concerns about supply-side market concentration and also about the design, operation and oversight of the wholesale market,” he said.

“These merit serious consideration not least in the context of future coal-generation closure.”

Associate Professor Mountain’s perception about the need for the Victoria Energy Policy Centre became particularly clear while completing his PhD at VU's Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies in 2017.

“While Australia’s universities have contributed greatly on matters of technology, a policy-focused energy economics base in academia is missing in our public discourse.

"With funding from the Government of Victoria and Victoria University, we are filling that gap and so far, have had rewarding feedback.”

Read VEPC's working paper: The exercise of market power in Australia's National Electricity Market following the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station.