Power bills, hydrogen on ministers' agenda

Rebecca Gredley
Community groups are urging energy ministers to help vulnerable Aussies afford their power bills

The nation's energy ministers are jetting to Perth as they prepare for a jam-packed meeting tackling the future of the electricity system.

The ministers will meet for a dinner on Thursday evening where it's understood initial decisions on Friday's broad-ranging agenda will be agreed upon.

Australia's chief scientist Alan Finkel will present his much-anticipated national hydrogen agenda to the ministers for them to sign off.

ACT's energy minister Shane Rattenbury will try to make sure the strategy only supports hydrogen from clean energy sources and not fossil fuels.

"The sort of customers like Japan and Korea - who are going to want hydrogen in the future - are looking for our hydrogen as a fuel to decarbonise their economies," he told AAP.

It's the first time the energy ministers have met this year, with the agenda covering issues like reliable power supply, stabilising the grid and how to reduce emissions through technology.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor has stepped away from the idea of a national plan and instead wants individual agreements with the states and territories.

Mr Taylor is critical of Victoria's moratorium on gas and and is set to approach the topic with his state counterpart.

Victoria's energy minister Lily D'Ambrosio says the current reliability standards don't account for outages from ageing coal-fired power plants or hotter summers being experienced.

"We'll be pushing for a new, more effective reliability standard and we expect to see it implemented in time for next summer," she told AAP.

Mr Taylor says the review will be crucial to ensuring enough reliable power is injected into the grid.

"As energy ministers we have an important job to do. Our focus should always be on increasing reliability and lowering prices," he said.

Ahead of the meeting the ministers have been urged to consider implementing energy efficiency standards for rental properties to lower power bills and reduce emissions.

The Australian Council of Social Service is one of 40 organisations putting pressure on the ministers ahead of their meeting.

The groups want a national framework for mandated energy efficiency standards for rental properties to lower power bills and reduce emissions.

Meanwhile, consumers are one step closer to no longer having to pay unreasonable fees for late payments on electricity and gas bills.

The Australian Energy Market Commission on Thursday released a draft change to retail rules, which would also stop energy giants from offering deals with conditional discounts.

The change was originally put forward by Mr Taylor.

The AEMC has recommended civil penalties of up to $100,000 for energy retailers each time they breach the proposed rule.