The Australian consumer watchdog has stated that electricity bills for households across the country soared by $300 (US$187) on average in the past six months.
Speaking to a parliamentary committee, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairwoman Gina Cass-Gottlieb said this amount equalled a 25 percent increase in electricity prices for an average household.
The rise was much larger for small businesses, with the chairwoman estimating a price difference of $1,500.
During the hearing, members of the economics committee questioned the ACCC about where there was price-gouging in the energy sector.
In response, Cass-Gottlieb said the steep price increases were caused by several factors, including the war in Ukraine, unexplained generator outages, and flooding affecting coal mines and coal-fired generators.
As such, she said the rise in electricity bills was not necessarily an indicator of anti-competitive behaviour.
Nevertheless, the chairwoman noted that the ACCC was closely monitoring gas and electricity companies and would report to the treasurer every six months.
Meanwhile, the Labor government said it would reduce energy prices over time and deliver its election promise to lower electricity bills by $275 by 2025.
Liberal MP and economics committee deputy chairman Garth Hamilton said Australian households were having a hard time with rising living costs.
"Households could really use the government's promised $275 reduction in energy prices," he said in comments obtained by AAP.
ACCC Found No Evidence of Unreasonable Petrol Price HikesOn another topic, Cass-Gottlieb told the economics committee that the ACCC had not discovered evidence of abnormally high petrol prices after the federal government reinstated the full fuel excise tax in late September.
Prior to the reinstatement, the treasurer had tasked the consumer watchdog with monitoring retailers for signs of unreasonable price hikes.
However, wholesale prices jumped to $1.70 a litre, up more than 13 cents from the previous week.
CommSec economist Craig James said petrol prices could go up to $2.15 a litre in the coming weeks due to the reinstatement of the fuel excise tax and capital cities returning to the top of their fuel cycles.