Power price cut plan gets cautious support

A plan to cut up to $400 a year from household power bills as part of a major reset of Australia's energy market has received cautious support from industry.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's bid to cut 25 per cent from electricity bills got warm support from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when it was released on Wednesday.

A key measure involves forcing retailers to offer a benchmark price near the middle of the market, to end confusing and deceptive discounts.

"We cannot trust the retailers to set their own default prices to consumers," ACCC chair Rod Sims told reporters on Wednesday.

He estimates bills could drop up to 25 per cent for the average household if the report's 56 recommendations are all implemented.

"Australians are crying out for an energy policy that is focused on them," Mr Turnbull said.

Business lobby Australian Industry Group welcomed the voluntary write-down of the value of state-owned electricity networks, but it was unsure about the plan for the government to underwrite new power generation.

Mr Sims heard from a number of private operators who wanted to build new power plants but couldn't get the finance, so he wants the government to promise to buy a certain amount of power to make new plants viable.

He said proposed projects included gas plants, pumped hydro and other renewable projects, but no coal so far.

Renewable energy retailer Momentum said the ACCC's plan was "great news" because discounts would now be clear to everyone.

But the Clean Energy Council is unhappy with the plan to prematurely end support for rooftop solar.

"Virtually every part of our power bill has gone up this decade, but technologies like solar power, solar hot water and energy efficiency are some of the few things that are actively making a difference," chief executive Kane Thornton said.

Mr Turnbull will talk to the states about the ACCC's recommendations, as he also tries to get them to sign up to his national energy guarantee, which is aimed at dropping prices, guaranteeing reliability, and cutting emissions.