8 June 2018

Electricity price rise to add another $300 to average power bills

| Ian Bushnell
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Higher wholesale prices and the cost of green schemes are the main contributors to the 14 percent rise in electricity prices in the ACT.

A typical Canberra household’s power bill will rise by about $300 for the year under a 14 percent hike in electricity prices announced on Thursday by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission.

The ICRC released its annual update of regulated retail electricity prices for the financial year beginning 1 July 2018, setting the maximum average nominal increase in ActewAGL Retail’s basket of regulated tariffs for 2018-19 at 14.29 percent.

It said that if ActewAGL Retail increased prices by the full 14.29 per cent, this would translate to an increase of up to $299 in the annual bills (or about $5.73 a week) for a typical Canberra household consuming about 8,000 kWh per year.

The ICRC said most of the reasons for the rise were outside of ActewAGL’s control and were the result of higher wholesale electricity prices and the higher cost of national green schemes, fueled by the greater than expected take-up of residential solar energy.

“The large increases in Australian wholesale electricity prices that occurred in 2016 and 2017 are still pushing up ACT electricity prices. While wholesale prices have fallen slightly over the past few months, they are still 50 per cent higher than in May 2016,” Senior Commissioner Joe Dimasi said.

“The Commission’s method of smoothing out large changes in wholesale prices means that ACT retail prices have not increased as much as in other parts of Australia. But there is now a ‘catch-up’ in retail prices in the ACT as the wholesale price increases that happened in 2017 continue to flow through into retail prices.”

The ICRC said higher wholesale electricity purchase costs contributed more than half of the total retail price increase (7.80 percentage points of the total 14.29 percent increase). The national green schemes administered by the Clean Energy Regulator contributed more than a third of the total retail price increase (4.12 percentage points).

ActewAGL’s retail operating costs will fall by 4.42 percent in 2018-19.

The ICRC said that despite the increase in regulated retail prices in 2018-19, electricity bills for ACT residential customers would remain among the lowest in Australia.

“I recognise that the large increase in retail prices in 2018-19 will place financial pressure on ACT residential and small business consumers,” Mr Dimasi said. “However, it should be noted that these are maximum price increases and I encourage consumers to talk to their retailer about whether they are on the right electricity plan for their circumstances and to seek assistance if they need it.”

The ACT Government blamed the price rise on a lack of market certainty that was causing under investment in power generation and leading to a shortfall in supply. It also defended its renewable energy policies.

“The ACT is part of a National Electricity Market, and the bulk of today’s announced increase is outside the control of the ACT Government. However, ACT households and businesses will continue to have some of the lowest cost and most reliable electricity supplies in the country. Canberrans will still be paying hundreds of dollars less per year compared to our neighbours in New South Wales,” Deputy Director General, Sustainability and the Built Environment, Geoffrey Rutledge said.

Mr Rutledge said the ACT’s renewable energy scheme costs would also remain well below the $5.50 per household per week previously estimated, and the Government remained confident that this would decline after peaking in 2020.

He said the ACT Government remained committed to renewable energy and would continue to invest in sustainable electricity generation.

The Government would again join with ActewAGL to provide a support fund of $500,000 for Canberrans struggling with their power bills, and he urged consumers to talk to their energy provider about getting the best deal to meet their needs, or to shop around for a better offer.

“Last year the St Vincent de Paul Society found that Canberrans could save over $200 on their electricity costs simply by switching to a lower priced plan. Online comparator tools like www.energymadeeasy.gov.au are available to help customers check that they are on the best electricity plan for them,” he said.

“Saving energy has never been more cost effective. The ACT Government’s Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme has assisted over 71,000 households and businesses, including 18,000 low income priority households, to cut their energy bills.”

Visit www.actsmart.act.gov.au or call 13 22 81 for information and advice on the energy savings opportunities available.

From 1 July, the Utilities Concession for eligible low-income households increases from $604 to $654 per year to assist with electricity costs.

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If you have solar, don’t be conned by ACTEWAGL! How can a company increase costs by 14.9% and at the same time afford to offer 25% discount if people get their bills online and pay by direct deposit? The answer is that they are ripping off the people with solar – the terms and conditions for the discounts include”- “This offer is not available to customers on Solar 1 for 1 Scheme.” and “This offer is not available to Solar customers receiving 11c/kWh on ActewAGL ACT Small Generator Buyback Scheme. An ACT Small Generator Buyback rate of 8.0c/kWh applies to this market contract.” If I were to take them up on the 12.5% offer, my annual bill at current rates would go up by up to $450 and I already pay by direct debit for a miniscual up to $5 discount, and by registering on their site they get you to accept bills online anyway. Not to mention that they charge the full GST for the usage, without considering it in the amount they buy back from us.

Sadly, even with electricity price rises, many people who are building a new house, still will continue to not put energy efficiency high enough on their list. It should be top of the list. Houses can be built that need NO air-conditioning in Canberra and very little heating. I know, as I did put energy efficiency at the top of my list. It’s possible that houses might even be able to be more efficient than mine. I have lived in this house several years now and only once ‘needed’ to heat in the daytime, and I only heat for a few evenings each winter (maybe for about 3 hrs each time). Stop building those badly designed MacMansions, build smaller and more efficient designs. Then you won’t be complaining. (Naturally also turn off things when they are not in use to reduce vampire power use. And educate your kids to do so too. If they don’t, lose of some pocket money to pay for their waste I imagine would supply the incentive that education doesn’t.)

I raised a while back that paying money to secure renewable energy didnt add up.
neither does solar in general.

Solar makes power cheaper for some of canberra however they still want electricity at night.
So solar only pays for half but requires 24×7 infrastructure.

If its always needed by everyone and only some are paying full price, then the price goes up for those without solar.

Capital Retro8:56 am 12 Jun 18

That is the conclusion I arrived at last year. The “battery” option is next to useless also and the value for money equation is even worse than the one applied to the Canberra light rail.

I read somewhere that local electricity distributors are facing massive “grid balancing” problems if the uptake of home solar continues at its current rate.

Capital Retro7:59 pm 11 Jun 18

The increased prices are a result of taxpayers paying massive subsidies to the renewables industry.

Capital Retro9:43 am 11 Jun 18

These increases will hurt industry too and the unreliability of renewable sources will close industries: https://www.theherald.com.au/story/4919006/smelters-100m-decision/

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