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Up, up, up go the power prices

By 20 June 2011 33

electricity

The Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission has not yet bestirred itself to update its website, but the ABC informs us they’ve approved a 6.4% rise in the price of electricity for the coming financial year.

Acting senior commissioner Malcolm Gray says the main reason for the rise is the Federal Government’s increased renewable energy target (RET).

He says that accounts for 5 per cent of the 6.4 per cent increase.

Enjoy.

UPDATE: Simon Corbell has announced his pleasure that things aren’t as bad as in NSW.

“The decision by the ICRC to only increase electricity prices by 6.4% is very modest compared to a 17% increase in NSW and leaves ACT energy prices well below those across the border in Queanbeyan where consumers pay up to $1000 more per year for electricity,” Mr Corbell said.

The price increase will mean approximately a $1.65 increase to the average electricity bill per week, or $85 per year.

“The ACT Government is working hard to protect low income Canberra households from the rising cost of utilities.”

“The Government has recently announced increases to the energy rebate for low income households in Canberra which would see an extra concession payment of $131 dollars per year, taking the total utilities concession to $346.20 per annum,” Mr Corbell said.

FURTHER UPDATE: Here’s the ICRC media release:

The primary driver for the increase in electricity prices in the ACT is the enhanced Federal Government Renewable Energy Target (RET) which accounts for 5% out of the 6.4% increase. Network costs have risen as well, but the wholesale cost of electricity has fallen under the Commission’s methodology for determining the wholesale price of electricity,’ Mr Gray said.

According to the Acting Senior Commissioner, the Commission estimates that under the new tariffs, electricity costs for a typical residential customer will rise from $1,332 to $1,418 a year, or around $1.65 a week.

UPDATE 3: The full report is now online.

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33 Responses to Up, up, up go the power prices
#1
Gungahlin Al1:11 pm, 20 Jun 11

And how much of this increase was due to the Solar Feed-in Tariff? Not even mentioned by them as a factor. Does this put the lie to the assumption that many people have been making then?

#2
johnboy1:14 pm, 20 Jun 11

Gungahlin Al said :

And how much of this increase was due to the Solar Feed-in Tariff? Not even mentioned by them as a factor. Does this put the lie to the assumption that many people have been making then?

Yes Al, the magic money tree allows massive payments to the rich to come at no cost to anyone else.

Glad you’ve spotted that.

#3
Erg01:24 pm, 20 Jun 11

If a typical household customer was paying $1332 a year, then apparently I need to examine my energy usage – I’m paying more than that in a two-person household with gas hot water and no air conditioning. I can only imagine what it’s going to cost once I get the meth lab hooked up!

#4
puggy1:41 pm, 20 Jun 11

Erg0 said :

If a typical household customer was paying $1332 a year, then apparently I need to examine my energy usage – I’m paying more than that in a two-person household with gas hot water and no air conditioning. I can only imagine what it’s going to cost once I get the meth lab hooked up!

If it helps, I’m paying a third of that for a two person household for electricity with gas hot water, heating and cooking. I’d guess it’s the heating in the winter months that costs a bit.

#5
Mysteryman1:52 pm, 20 Jun 11

How feasible would it be to install a load of solar panels and just have yourself disconnected from the grid? I supposed you’d need a method of storing electricity for days when the panels don’t generate as much electricity…. ?

#6
dpm2:20 pm, 20 Jun 11

Hahaha! We sound like characters out of a Tolstoy novel complaining about our situation and asking: “what’s to be done?”
Electricity, gas and water go up every year anyway. It’s kinda inevitable.
Same as health insurance. Should we blame solar panels for that too?

But what’s to be done? We can’t do anything about it when there’s no reason for increases, let alone if there is one.
For example, I remember about 10 years ago when gas prices went up, the ACTEWAGL rep said on the news, it was: ‘to keep ACT prices in line with what people pay in NSW’! So with logic like that, apparently any excuse is enough to put up prices. (OK, if they meant that they buy from NSW and their cost had gone up then fair enough, but if they just compared the consumer cost over the border and picked the most expensive one as their new price, then it’s a bit sad). I can imagine the next year NSW increased their prices to ‘keep in line’ with us, and so on…

Also, water prices got hiked up quite a lot during the ‘drought years’ (As ACTEWAGL wanted us to spare water, but they still needed the same revenue from that smaller volume sold). Did prices dramatically drop the minute dam volumes became safe, restrictions were eased, and we could once again use more water on gardens? Hahaha, unlikely! Anyway, that future-proofing $$$$ dam put paid to that!
Now that I think of it, everyone paying extra for that dam on their water bill is kinda like solar panel tariffs. I don’t use very much water anyway so I don’t need a new big dam (kinda like a ‘new big tax’), yet, i’m going to have to pay for some of this dam – I’m basically subsidising large water users so they can have a big dam to use! Arrrgh!

#7
Erg02:21 pm, 20 Jun 11

puggy said :

Erg0 said :

If a typical household customer was paying $1332 a year, then apparently I need to examine my energy usage – I’m paying more than that in a two-person household with gas hot water and no air conditioning. I can only imagine what it’s going to cost once I get the meth lab hooked up!

If it helps, I’m paying a third of that for a two person household for electricity with gas hot water, heating and cooking. I’d guess it’s the heating in the winter months that costs a bit.

Forgot to mention, the heating runs on gas as well (you can tell because the gas bill quadruples over the winter months). Maybe I just have too many electronic devices (highly likely).

#8
Me no fry2:39 pm, 20 Jun 11

Quit whining. Any power price increase with only one digit to the left of the decimal point looks cheap to most of us in NSW. My increase (south coast, Country Energy) this year is over 18%.

I use less than half the electricity I used when living in Canberra – but the cost is the same.

Enjoy your cheap electricity while you can.

#9
qbngeek3:03 pm, 20 Jun 11

Mysteryman said :

How feasible would it be to install a load of solar panels and just have yourself disconnected from the grid? I supposed you’d need a method of storing electricity for days when the panels don’t generate as much electricity…. ?

It is feasible but you need to work out if it will suit you and how long it will take to recoup your money. We are planning to do it when we buy/renovate the house we are renting and we are looking at about $14k with a battery bank that ahould last 8 days with no charge going into it at all with our average usage. That price also includes a small diesel generator in case the worst happens and we need to charge the batteries without the solar. We spend about $2k a year on electricity atm so it will pay for itself in 7 years.

We will also have electric hot water as we will not be drawing from the grid. Our kitchen and heating will be gas to reduce the load. We will have air-con but it will be used sparingly as we have survived the last 10 years with just ceiling fans and the occasional tower fan.

In addition to this we will have 3 water tanks, two slimline ones beside the house and one under the front part of the house. These will be used for bathrooms, laundry and outside. The mains water will run to the kitchen and there will be an over-ride to use mains water for the whole house should the tanks run dry.

If people want to actually do something for the environment, they would consider these options instead of just going for the ones that give them a subsidy.

#10
Gungahlin Al3:25 pm, 20 Jun 11

johnboy said :

Gungahlin Al said :

And how much of this increase was due to the Solar Feed-in Tariff? Not even mentioned by them as a factor. Does this put the lie to the assumption that many people have been making then?

Yes Al, the magic money tree allows massive payments to the rich to come at no cost to anyone else.

Glad you’ve spotted that.

As Corbell’s media release states:
“It is important to also note that the ACT’s feed-in tariff scheme has not contributed at all to this price increase, and still remains less than 1% of the total average power bill.”

Massive payments eh? Our net cost was about $7500 onto our home loan, for an annual projected revenue of about $1500. Less finance costs of around $550pa, I think that’s a return (I’m not the accountant of the family) of some 12.6%. Better than a term deposit sure, but you couldn’t get a builder to turn up for less than 20%.

I don’t understand why people have a problem with the idea that others are putting these installations in for reasons fairly evenly balanced between financial and altruistic.

But come next summer when you all crank up your air con at once, all these solar systems will be cranking out power at their peak.

Perhaps read this interesting debate on Radio National:
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/rearvision/stories/2011/3225075.htm
A key quote:
“We use these enormous pieces of infrastructure for very short periods of time. Recently an analysis was done in Energex in South East Queensland, now that’s an $8-billion network roughly $900-million of that network is used for just 3-1/2 days per annum. $900-million going to service 3-1/2 days of electricity use and you could imagine the schools, roads, hospitals you could have built with that $900-million.”

#11
GregW3:38 pm, 20 Jun 11

Erg0 said :

If a typical household customer was paying $1332 a year, then apparently I need to examine my energy usage – I’m paying more than that in a two-person household with gas hot water and no air conditioning.!

Is that just for electricity or electricity + gas? Our electricity bills are about $700 pa with two-people in an ex-gov with off-peak electric hot water. We could do more to reduce electricity consumption but when it’s so cheap it’s hard to justify the effort.

#12
Holden Caulfield3:47 pm, 20 Jun 11

qbngeek said :

…In addition to this we will have 3 water tanks, two slimline ones beside the house and one under the front part of the house. These will be used for bathrooms, laundry and outside. The mains water will run to the kitchen and there will be an over-ride to use mains water for the whole house should the tanks run dry.

If people want to actually do something for the environment, they would consider these options instead of just going for the ones that give them a subsidy.

IIRC you can only use rainwater for toilets and washing machines (ie. you can’t plumb it to your showers or use it as drinking water).

However, if you do connect your tank to flush your dunnies you can get a subsidy.

#13
Reprobate4:29 pm, 20 Jun 11

JB, expect the ActewAGL Safety Gestapo to smash down the doors of your office when they see that you seem to have a powerboard plugged into another powerboard…

#14
monomania5:12 pm, 20 Jun 11

Gungahlin Al said :

johnboy said :

Gungahlin Al said :

And how much of this increase was due to the Solar Feed-in Tariff? Not even mentioned by them as a factor. Does this put the lie to the assumption that many people have been making then?

Yes Al, the magic money tree allows massive payments to the rich to come at no cost to anyone else.

Glad you’ve spotted that.

As Corbell’s media release states:
“It is important to also note that the ACT’s feed-in tariff scheme has not contributed at all to this price increase, and still remains less than 1% of the total average power bill.”

Massive payments eh? Our net cost was about $7500 onto our home loan, for an annual projected revenue of about $1500. Less finance costs of around $550pa, I think that’s a return (I’m not the accountant of the family) of some 12.6%. Better than a term deposit sure, but you couldn’t get a builder to turn up for less than 20%.

I don’t understand why people have a problem with the idea that others are putting these installations in for reasons fairly evenly balanced between financial and altruistic.

But come next summer when you all crank up your air con at once, all these solar systems will be cranking out power at their peak.

Perhaps read this interesting debate on Radio National:
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/rearvision/stories/2011/3225075.htm
A key quote:
“We use these enormous pieces of infrastructure for very short periods of time. Recently an analysis was done in Energex in South East Queensland, now that’s an $8-billion network roughly $900-million of that network is used for just 3-1/2 days per annum. $900-million going to service 3-1/2 days of electricity use and you could imagine the schools, roads, hospitals you could have built with that $900-million.”

Gunghalin Al has spun this yarn on other posts. One of the reasons the costs have gone up is because of the renewable energy scheme. Electricity producers were compelled to purchase credits produced by solar cells on the roof of Gunghalin Al and a lot of other peoples homes. Unless Gunghalin Al got in very early and got an $8000 grant from the Commonwealth Government to reduce his system’s cost to $7500, he like many others would also have got his system subsidised by between $4200 to $10000 dollars worth of Renewable Energy Credits various sized systems system generate, including 5 times the RECs for the first 1.5kW. It appears Gunghalin Al has a 2kW system paying him 50 cents per kilowatt hour. ActewAGL can place electricity in the grid for an average of 8 or 9 cents.

This is not the only spin Corbell, now with Gunghalin Al’s help, has put on the feed-in tariff scheme. The small scale part of the scheme has already been costed into our electricity prices, $50 million for the first 5 years.

I don’t care what motivated people to stick panels on their roofs, greed or green. The solar industry was sure advertising to the greed. The carbon abatement comes at too high a cost, and others, not those with panels on their rooves, are paying for it because of this decision. See the Productivity Commission report if you want some idea of the contribution to carbon abatement by feed-in tarrif schemes. Nothing.

GunghalinAl also believes that when we turn on our air conditioners on a hot day his solar cells make a significant contribution. Experts that Professor Garnaut consulted for his last report on renewable energy don’t believe that. The problem is that the peak period occurs after solar panels output peaks and when output has also been reduced by being at too high a temperature for best performance.

#15
arescarti425:21 pm, 20 Jun 11

Mysteryman said :

How feasible would it be to install a load of solar panels and just have yourself disconnected from the grid? I supposed you’d need a method of storing electricity for days when the panels don’t generate as much electricity…. ?

It can be done, but you need an awful lot of batteries, which are generally very expensive and need to be replaced probably every 10 years or so.

I’m not sure why you’d want to do that if you have a grid connection, that sort of system is generally only used where a grid connection is not an option (i.e. due to isolation).

#16
eily5:22 pm, 20 Jun 11

Holden Caulfield said :

qbngeek said :

…In addition to this we will have 3 water tanks, two slimline ones beside the house and one under the front part of the house. These will be used for bathrooms, laundry and outside. The mains water will run to the kitchen and there will be an over-ride to use mains water for the whole house should the tanks run dry.

If people want to actually do something for the environment, they would consider these options instead of just going for the ones that give them a subsidy.

IIRC you can only use rainwater for toilets and washing machines (ie. you can’t plumb it to your showers or use it as drinking water).

However, if you do connect your tank to flush your dunnies you can get a subsidy.

But there is a catch. If you connect a tank to a toilet you still have to connect to the mains water in case the tank runs dry. And because you’re connected to mains you have to follow water restrictions (when in force) even with the water out of the tank. So you can’t use that water to water the garden.
Rather defeats the main reason many people get a tank.

#17
hoody5:48 pm, 20 Jun 11

I’ve thought about solar, batteries and 12 volt appliances for the house too. I spend a week or so a year on a sailboat and you learn to manage your energy budget closely. I think with 2kw of panels, another 1kw of wind turbine and 1000 amp/hr of battery capacity you could do it and you would definitely need that backup genny. But can anyone tell us – can you actually disconnect from the grid in suburbia? I think you might have problems with your fixed phone, NBN or other broadband. Your laptop has a much smaller consumption than a full featured desktop (but high end gaming is out) For hot water you could run solar with gas. I reckon I would be comfortable with spending the money purely for the satisfaction of no longer being beholden to ACTEW for electricity. Of course as pointed out earlier, you have maintenance/replacement of your batteries and my neighbours might not like the sound of (even a small) wind generator because the small ones do make a bit of noise. I keep thinking about it…..

#18
Postalgeek6:11 pm, 20 Jun 11

eily said :

Holden Caulfield said :

qbngeek said :

…In addition to this we will have 3 water tanks, two slimline ones beside the house and one under the front part of the house. These will be used for bathrooms, laundry and outside. The mains water will run to the kitchen and there will be an over-ride to use mains water for the whole house should the tanks run dry.

If people want to actually do something for the environment, they would consider these options instead of just going for the ones that give them a subsidy.

IIRC you can only use rainwater for toilets and washing machines (ie. you can’t plumb it to your showers or use it as drinking water).

However, if you do connect your tank to flush your dunnies you can get a subsidy.

But there is a catch. If you connect a tank to a toilet you still have to connect to the mains water in case the tank runs dry. And because you’re connected to mains you have to follow water restrictions (when in force) even with the water out of the tank. So you can’t use that water to water the garden.
Rather defeats the main reason many people get a tank.

But that wouldn’t prevent you using water in other the tanks to water the garden, just the tank connected to the toilet, I assume.

#19
matt312216:59 pm, 20 Jun 11

Reprobate said :

JB, expect the ActewAGL Safety Gestapo to smash down the doors of your office when they see that you seem to have a powerboard plugged into another powerboard…

Not ActewAGL or ACTPLA – ACT Workcover is what you were thinking of.

The Solar scheme has increased bills a bit but the main reason, the one that should be most obvious to all – PRIVATISATION!!! When you privatize your electricity facilities the prices skyrocket, because they are now run by Companies with shareholders – the aim of a company – to make monetary profit! Our bills aren’t as high as NSW yet because ActewAGL is only 49% private owned. Also when %100 private, electricity company assets aren’t maintained as well as government owned. Look at the 1998 Auckland power crisis. – “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1998_Auckland_power_crisis”

Say yes to water and electricity staying in government hands – the peoples hands.

#20
vauxhall8:16 pm, 20 Jun 11

matt31221 said :

Reprobate said :

JB, expect the ActewAGL Safety Gestapo to smash down the doors of your office when they see that you seem to have a powerboard plugged into another powerboard…

Not ActewAGL or ACTPLA – ACT Workcover is what you were thinking of.

The Solar scheme has increased bills a bit but the main reason, the one that should be most obvious to all – PRIVATISATION!!! When you privatize your electricity facilities the prices skyrocket, because they are now run by Companies with shareholders – the aim of a company – to make monetary profit! Our bills aren’t as high as NSW yet because ActewAGL is only 49% private owned. Also when %100 private, electricity company assets aren’t maintained as well as government owned. Look at the 1998 Auckland power crisis. – “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1998_Auckland_power_crisis”

Say yes to water and electricity staying in government hands – the peoples hands.

Huh? The massive increases forecast in last year’s IPART determinations for NSW were well before privatisation of NSW energy assets, and the networks (which most of the increases can be attributed to) remain publicly owned to this day.

#21
astrojax9:10 pm, 20 Jun 11

what we need to do is harvest the excess mice in the plague-hit northern nsw region and have them run in wheels hooked up to the actew grid and sit back and sip mojitos…

#22
Gungahlin Al9:24 pm, 20 Jun 11

eily said :

Holden Caulfield said :

qbngeek said :

…In addition to this we will have 3 water tanks, two slimline ones beside the house and one under the front part of the house. These will be used for bathrooms, laundry and outside. The mains water will run to the kitchen and there will be an over-ride to use mains water for the whole house should the tanks run dry.

If people want to actually do something for the environment, they would consider these options instead of just going for the ones that give them a subsidy.

IIRC you can only use rainwater for toilets and washing machines (ie. you can’t plumb it to your showers or use it as drinking water).

However, if you do connect your tank to flush your dunnies you can get a subsidy.

But there is a catch. If you connect a tank to a toilet you still have to connect to the mains water in case the tank runs dry. And because you’re connected to mains you have to follow water restrictions (when in force) even with the water out of the tank. So you can’t use that water to water the garden.
Rather defeats the main reason many people get a tank.

Yeah I don’t think you are right there. You are required to have a water switch to kick over to town water if the tank runs out but it is not correct to say water restrictions apply to your tank water. The switch alerts you when it charges and at that point you modify your usage to fit the restrictions.

I had an ACTEW staffer reported me for watering in new plants when establishing the garden. They came took a sample of the water out of the taps and found it wasnt town water. End of complaint.

#23
Gungahlin Al9:27 pm, 20 Jun 11

Interesting complaint by the regulator about energy companies in other states “gold plating” their charges:
http://www.petermartin.com.au/2011/06/you-rigged-da-what-why-electricity.html

#24
Chop719:56 pm, 20 Jun 11

I actually think this is ACTEWs way of softening us up for the massive increase in water prices that are coming. Go easy on electricity (for now) and wham

#25
qbngeek8:58 am, 21 Jun 11

eily said :

Holden Caulfield said :

qbngeek said :

…In addition to this we will have 3 water tanks, two slimline ones beside the house and one under the front part of the house. These will be used for bathrooms, laundry and outside. The mains water will run to the kitchen and there will be an over-ride to use mains water for the whole house should the tanks run dry.

If people want to actually do something for the environment, they would consider these options instead of just going for the ones that give them a subsidy.

IIRC you can only use rainwater for toilets and washing machines (ie. you can’t plumb it to your showers or use it as drinking water).

However, if you do connect your tank to flush your dunnies you can get a subsidy.

But there is a catch. If you connect a tank to a toilet you still have to connect to the mains water in case the tank runs dry. And because you’re connected to mains you have to follow water restrictions (when in force) even with the water out of the tank. So you can’t use that water to water the garden.
Rather defeats the main reason many people get a tank.

I will have to check on this one. We were given advice that we could do it, we are also in NSW so it might be different. I don’t see why you would need to, my dad lives on a farm with just tank water and they manage. Why should we be different?

And on the cost of batteries. We will have a 5000amp/hr battery bank which is going to be $6k of the cost of the system. We went that big because we run gaming consoles and desktops however we switch everything off at the wall if it is not in use. The batteries have a 10 year warranty as long as we get them serviced once a year. The price of a service is locked in for the 10 years at $190 a service.

If you went with GEL or AGM batteries (which I have in the camper trailer) the battery costs start to skyrocket. However they are sealed batteries and are spill proof. They can even be mounted sideways or upside down which is why we used them in the camper.

#26
dungfungus9:21 am, 21 Jun 11

The cost of the “renewables subsidy” is yet to be applied. Also, I am sure ActewAGL will find some other lost cause to waste our money on like TransACT II or sponsoring an A League soccer team.

#27
Gungahlin Al10:20 am, 21 Jun 11

qbngeek said :

And on the cost of batteries. We will have a 5000amp/hr battery bank which is going to be $6k of the cost of the system. We went that big because we run gaming consoles and desktops however we switch everything off at the wall if it is not in use. The batteries have a 10 year warranty as long as we get them serviced once a year. The price of a service is locked in for the 10 years at $190 a service.

If you went with GEL or AGM batteries (which I have in the camper trailer) the battery costs start to skyrocket. However they are sealed batteries and are spill proof. They can even be mounted sideways or upside down which is why we used them in the camper.

There really is little point is going off the grid in a suburban situation – some could argue that it is actually increasing your environmental impact.

If you have PV or other generation capability, there is the disjunct between when you need power and when you are generating it. so you need batteries. Batteries have a large embedded impact. Then there is around 30% loss of generation getting energy stored in them and another 30% loss getting the energy back out. With or without a FIT, you are doing a better thing environmentally by pumping it into the grid.

#28
Mysteryman10:28 am, 21 Jun 11

arescarti42 said :

Mysteryman said :

How feasible would it be to install a load of solar panels and just have yourself disconnected from the grid? I supposed you’d need a method of storing electricity for days when the panels don’t generate as much electricity…. ?

It can be done, but you need an awful lot of batteries, which are generally very expensive and need to be replaced probably every 10 years or so.

I’m not sure why you’d want to do that if you have a grid connection, that sort of system is generally only used where a grid connection is not an option (i.e. due to isolation).

I’d want to be off the grid so that I don’t have to pay companies to provide me with something that I can get myself.

#29
Thoroughly Smashed11:48 am, 21 Jun 11

Erg0 said :

If a typical household customer was paying $1332 a year, then apparently I need to examine my energy usage – I’m paying more than that in a two-person household with gas hot water and no air conditioning. I can only imagine what it’s going to cost once I get the meth lab hooked up!

I suppose you should be thankful that you didn’t decide to start growing hydro.

#30
54-112:49 pm, 21 Jun 11

Erg0 said :

If a typical household customer was paying $1332 a year, then apparently I need to examine my energy usage – I’m paying more than that in a two-person household with gas hot water and no air conditioning. I can only imagine what it’s going to cost once I get the meth lab hooked up!

I think you need to separate out the actual cost of electricity from the total power bill. Our bills of around $1300pa for usage has about 35% additional “supply charges”, which makes a very big difference.

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