9 June 2021

Electricity concessions rise to combat latest spike in power prices

| Dominic Giannini
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Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA Photo: Michelle Kroll Region Media

Chief Minister Andrew Barr (left) and Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Shane Rattenbury have encouraged Canberrans to shop around for better electricity prices. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Around 31,000 Canberra households will receive an increase in the annual utilities concession from the ACT Government to offset electricity price hikes.

The utilities concession will permanently increase to $750, up from $700, and a further $50 concession will be applied for 2021-22, taking the total payment to $800.

The concession increase will set the budget back $6.3 million over the next four years while the one-off $50 payment will cost $1.55 million.

The concession will be expanded to ACT Services Access cardholders and will include asylum seekers with an access card at a cost of $80,000 over the forward estimates.

An additional $1 million will also be poured into the Utilities Hardship Fund over the next four years.

The government’s response comes in light of the ACT’s economic regulator, the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), allowing ActewAGL to raise their prices by a maximum of 11.95 per cent from 1 July.

Average residential customers face a $3.76 a week ($195.50 a year) increase in their electricity bills. Average businesses will be hit with an increase of $14.45 a week, or just over $750 a year.

The increase is due to the almost 37 per cent increase in network costs announced by the Australian Energy Regulator last month, the ICRC said.

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the government would continue to raise the community’s awareness about price shopping to help lower their electricity bills. Around 40 per cent of Canberrans remain on standing offer contracts.

Almost $1 million will be spent to improve community energy literacy and education over the next four years.

“There are other lower prices available,” Mr Barr said. “The ACT Government’s [benchmark electricity price comparison bill] passed recently will make it even easier for Canberrans to compare electricity offers and ensure they can access better deals from retailers.”

Under the scheme, electricity companies will now have to inform Canberrans about better deals on their bills, a move designed to save consumers hundreds and businesses thousands of dollars each year.

Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Shane Rattenbury also encouraged Canberrans to switch to energy-efficient technology and renewable electricity sources, like solar panels, to help reduce their power bills further.

Around 74,000 Canberra households have saved an average of $300 a year through the ACT Government’s Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme, and this jumps to $5200 a year for businesses, Mr Rattenbury said.

“Energy efficiency is another way people can take control of their energy bills,” he said. “There is a lot all households can do to be more comfortable while using less power, with government advice and support to make those changes at www.actsmart.act.gov.au.”

For those needing help, further information is available on the ACT Government’s Assistance website.

To inquire about a cheaper energy plan, go to www.energymadeeasy.gov.au.

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Mike of Canberra11:51 am 11 Jun 21

Well, isn’t it reassuring to know that Barr and Rattenbury have all sorts of glib ideas to help ordinary, hard-pressed Canberrans reduce their electricity costs? Why should consumers have to spend their time looking for deals (usually with caveats) that will provide some sort of relief from their electricity costs, or alternatively have to install expensive rooftop solar panels that need renewing every 10 years or so? Isn’t it the government’s job to source and make available reasonably priced electricity to everyone as part of basic infrastructure development and maintenance? If they’re not in the business of doing this, could I ask what they do all day? Here’s an idea that may help them to provide relief from electricity-driven financial burdens for all Canberrans. Drop your fantasy that renewable energy will ever be cheap, let alone affordable or reliable without a lot more research and development, other than for those who can afford the aforementioned solar panels, even then only functional in sunny weather without the aid of expensive relatively limited-time battery storage. Instead, start acting like the servants of the people that you’re supposed to be and work to secure for everyone reliable, affordable energy – you know, the type that doesn’t cause blackouts or help drive ordinary middle-class people out of Canberra.

Grid-supplied wind and solar as well as on rooftop solar, which are approaching 20 per cent of total supply, get a subsidy of $40 per MWh.  I understand that is roughly the same as the total market price four years ago, prior to the renewables forcing out major generators.

If renewables are cheaper than presumably they don’t need to be subsidised.

Got some links for these numbers?

HiddenDragon8:01 pm 08 Jun 21

Yet another instance of the Green-washed neoliberalism which is slowly but surely grinding down what’s left of the lower middle class of Canberra – yes, there are concessions, but as always with such bandaids, they are far from ideal.

Except for the commercial arrangements entered into by the government, and the higher prices to consumers, I tell ya, it’s cheaper!!

Capital Retro11:30 am 08 Jun 21

And it’s 100% renewable!

Deliberate ignorance doesn’t change the facts that renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels.

The government made a mistake in trying to pick winners and enter into a commercial arrangement that it never should have, which is now costing us more literally because the wholesale energy price has fallen considerably due to new renewable energy generation sources coming on line.

And as below, never heard you complain when those same contracts resulted in lower prices than would otherwise have been the case over the last few years.

Confirmation bias doesn’t substitute for actual arguments.

Capital Retro9:28 am 09 Jun 21

Whatever apologies you make for the government are not enough to excuse the fact that the outcome we got because they dabbled in virtue signaling by overweighting our power requirements with renewables was higher electricity prices.

There is really nothing more to say on it.

Capital Retro,
I agree there is nothing more to say on the matter than the facts I have presented to you.

Although I don’t know how you think I’m “apologising” for the government when I’ve solely blamed them for getting too involved in an area that they should not be in. But you do need to understand the complexities to have a meaningful discussion on the issue that goes way beyond the confirmation bias you and RSM are engaged in attempting to blame renewable energy for an issue that has very little to do with it as an electricity generation source.

“Overweighting our power requirements with renewables was higher electricity prices.”

What does that even mean CR? Or is it just your attempt at sounding clever about something you simply don’t understand…..

Capital Retro6:46 pm 10 Jun 21

It means the same as what you said on a post a bit further on namely: “…..contracting for the whole 100% of supply was just stupid virtue signalling, and will cost consumers plenty of $ in the long run.”


Mike of Canberra11:58 am 11 Jun 21

Are you including the cost of stabilising baseload power (you know for when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow) in your calculation?

I am including all costs for new electricity generation including the firming of some of the intermittent renewable sources. The facts are that it’s cheaper now, and will become more so each year.

But I would say that this is only true if the transition away from fossil fuels is managed correctly over the next 10-20 years so that the fossil fuel sources are replaced in a structured fashion when they reach end of life or become no longer viable to operate. Rushing this process would result in a more expensive outcome for consumers.

Mike of Canberra11:23 pm 11 Jun 21

Thanks Chewy. In particular, I appreciate you noting that any transition to renewable energy cannot be rushed, something that some of its proponents fail to realise.

Capital Retro7:51 am 12 Jun 21

I thought the ACT had already made the transition to 100% renewables. That is what the problem is about.

Capital Retro,
Hmmm, it’s almost like we have a National electricity grid that goes beyond the ACT.

Strange huh.

When will cheaper renewables lead to cheaper electricity prices?

This is a head scratcher.

Capital Retro9:50 am 08 Jun 21

Don’t hold your breath waiting for an answer on that one, rsm.

All our resident experts have probably jumped in their EVs and headed for the snow which wasn’t going to fall again.

I wish we could return to the days when we had a choice of buying “green” electricity or staying with the cheaper and more reliable fossil stuff.

The “renewables will be cheaper” mantra was a tactic in the strategy to con governments into to providing massive subsidies.

The issue here is not that renewable electricity is not cheap – it is the ridiculous contracting arrangements the ACT got itself into to ‘feel better about stuff’ that is causing the upwards pressure.

I.e. the actual cost of the generation the renewable energy sources is putting into the grid is much lower than what we are paying because of Feed In Tariff Entitlements that guarantee a set price for an extended period.

Capital Retro,
Except as you’ve been shown repeatedly, the renewables are already cheaper and will continue to transition to cover the vast majority of our electricity supply over the next 10-20 years.

The fact that the wholesale price of electricity has fallen is actually partly because of the increased proliferation of cheaper renewable energy.

The reason for this increase in prices is solely to do with commercial arrangements entered into by the ACT government and nothing more.

Although it is interesting that you weren’t complaining about the fact that those contracts have actually been saving you money over the last few years when wholesale electricity was more expensive than the contract price. Strange huh.

Capital Retro11:21 am 08 Jun 21

Do you have a bridge for sale too?

Nice try a defending the indefensible.

Chewy has done nothing of the sort CR – simply stating the facts as they stand.

We all know that facts aren’t always seen as necessary for some, but in this case they are useful for actually separating nonsense from the truth.

We don’t always agree Chewy, but you’re right on this one. Someone previously posted that the ACT Government signed onto Solar Share a few months ago at ‘three times the going price for renewable electricity’. I want a planned transition to renewables within ACT not one that has fixed our prices for 20 years under some contracts and is an accounting trick more than being real renewable energy use in ACT.

Yes it truly beggars belief when people argue that this is proof of renewables being more expensive when it’s actually the opposite.

The government should have stayed out of this space and let the market do its thing. The sad thing is that there may be a role for government in regulating here but it needed to be at the federal level. Our local government should concentrate on the issues in its space that it has control over.

Very frustrating chewy that they went ‘all in’. I could see some validity in supporting 1 or 2 big projects right at the very start, but contracting for the whole 100% of supply was just stupid virtue signalling, and will cost consumers plenty of $ in the long run. But when its handily off budget like this arrangement, governments couldn’t care less about the real impacts.

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