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tornadoes wings

PM to talk tough to power companies

electricity stock

The Turnbull government is ready to strong-arm electricity company chiefs into giving Australian households a better deal, with the threat of more regulations if they don't act.

Electricity bosses are sitting down with the prime minister on Wednesday morning as the coalition argues Australians are paying far higher electricity prices than needed because they're not getting the best deals possible.

The government blames a lack of transparency by electricity retailers and the difficulty in switching providers.

It's been estimated households could save $1000 or more a year by switching companies.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg concedes it's not hard for Australians to be confused when they open their power bills and it's often unclear how long discounts last and whether a better deal is available.

He wants retailers to give more and better information in a comparable form.

"The retailers can and will be doing more and that's what we'll be discussing today," he told reporters in Canberra ahead of the meeting.

He labelled regulation as "the sword of Damocles" but said the government first wanted to hear from the companies what they were doing.

"We also want to see these retailers protect the most vulnerable customers and that means not only giving them a cheaper deal but the most suitable deal," he said.

In a letter to major retailers requesting their attendance, Malcolm Turnbull said Australia was blessed with abundant energy so it is simply not good enough that some families and businesses cannot always afford to turn on their lights.

Energy Australia, Momentum Energy, Simply Energy, Alinta Energy, Origin Energy, AGL and Snowy Hydro are expected to front up, together with peak body the Australian Energy Council.

The Greens want the government to re-regulate the retail electricity sector and put a cap on power prices.

Energy spokesman Adam Bandt says the commonwealth should give states until the end of the year to re-regulate prices then step in and put the national regulator in charge.

"Simply jawboning the retailers won't help," Mr Bandt said.

"It's time to admit that competition has failed to deliver electricity that is cheap and clean."

Mr Turnbull told coalition MPs on Tuesday that during his recent week in Western Australia, people talked about the "red hot issue" of energy affordability and security more than anything else.

© AAP 2017 Photo credit: AAP Image/Brendan Esposito

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