CHOICE membership

Electricity Price Increases

An interesting article regarding claims by the Energy Efficiency Council that Australia could substanially reduce energy consumption and emissions by adopting best practice as other countries have already done.

Could, but won’t. Our governments are welded to the notion of getting coal dug up and sold or used. They seem to have zero interest in doing anything substantial about transitioning to renewables. Of course the householder can do a lot in terms of energy use reduction… I’ve managed to keep my electricity bills at the same level as I was at in 2011… but I can’t do any more… out of options. Can’t afford solar, can’t afford energy efficient a/c. The best I can hope for is to save enough to get my HWS replaced. I’ve pretty much stopped using a clothes dryer at all (used to use it for everything, after knickers began disappearing off the line, now I string them about the house, charming!)

NSW could do something about getting cars off the road, by making it legal to use electric powered scooters. I’d switch over in a heartbeat. Sure, we still have to plug in to electricity, but it would still be a huge saving in terms of energy and pollution.

I’m rambling… sorry.


You are not rambling.

Totally believable, if?..

A reasonable suspicion is many Australian households are already a long way down this path. Hence the likely gains may be much less than imagined.

Drawing a comparison without some measured reference points leaves the suggestion open to differing interpretations.

Firstly to extreme optimism, that we can do much more as consumers to reduce our energy use and hence costs, and even lower our household carbon footprint.

A second more cynical view point is that we can by adopting more energy efficient strategies hang on to high carbon energy sources without wasting money on enterprise level change. A HELE power station or two might then be seen as a good idea!

It might help understanding to see some real data points introduced to the discussion, otherwise it becomes a rather ‘point’ less discussion? :wink:

What are these golden opportunities?
My vote - :biking_woman:t2:

An unintended consequence of saving money by using less is the size of the national energy economy potentially decreases, causing businesses to earn less, invest less and employ fewer.

It’s a loss to the national economy that we don’t manufacture most of what we purchase to improve our energy efficiency. Although some consumers might suggest the local retailers and distributors make up for it through high markups to cover their inefficiency and margins on borrowed capital. The businesses doubtless suggest higher costs are down to red tape, taxes and expensive wages for staff?

Another aside asks how to encourage the uptake of more energy efficient practices and reduce costs to consumers. The need to provide the necessary investment raises the option of means testing government funding to favour lower income residences with a zero cost of changeover?

Perhaps relating the possible reduction in demand within the NEM and also interconnecting grid can deliver a much more significant financial saving. The cost benefits of making the existing infrastructure capacity go further could be worth quite a large government funding program!

Are the opportunities sufficient to avoid political derailing through debate over providing benefits to the 40% of Australian’s in low income households vs the 50% in the middle?

There are alternate arguments for prioritising expenditure from the public purse on zero emissions outcomes in preference to lower emissions technology.

Another more liberal and conservative argument might be that the public purse should fund nothing, given the user always pays, let the users who can and so choose self fund. It’s a market decision what happens next? Likely also not the first time a market has set a course to self destruct!

Irrespective of leaning asking households to pay more to export surplus to the grid aligns most strongly with the last mentioned direction? :rage:

1 Like

Inducing consumer paralysis: how retailers bury customers in an avalanche of choice.

The article applies to mobile phone and internet plans as well as electricity supply but I thought that it was most applicable in this thread because (almost) everybody needs power and because of the large amount that retailers extract from us using this technique.

I was peripherally involved at the time the NSW electricity market was deregulated and heard all the arguments about how competition between retailers would bring down prices and ensure service was good. What did we get? A choice of smaller scale middle-men that don’t actually produce or add anything but do their best to not compete on price, or vertically integrated larger organisations who manage to manipulate the whole system from generation to your door.

I would like to bring up a plot that I have mentioned before, that is major policy shifts need to have a post implementation review built into them, including the cost of performing the review. Then the public would be better informed about the real consequences of grand plans that are foisted on us and be in a position to assess the judgement of the Ministers and governments that put them forward. Council amalgamation is another broad-brush policy change that seemed to get a tick despite a dearth of evidence that it would have the claimed effect of saving money.


Interesting article… I was almost tempted to switch from my very ordinary “plan” with energy australia, until I did the comparison myself and found that I was actually paying a lower kWh price than my friend who switched to a fairly complicated Red Energy plan. He’s paying nearly double the rate I do. I’m now getting fairly substantial discounts which I wouldnt get from other suppliers, as well. shrug I’m one of those who simply has the default. I’d like to get away from AGL for gas, though.

On AGL and gas, as an aside.

We can compare a property we lived in recently that has town gas and our current on bottled. Same occupants with gas for all cooking and hot water needs.

Bottled gas including rental and free delivery is less than half the cost of town gas bills, if like us your usage is low. 2.2 bottles per year at $140 per bottle and $30 rental. (Approx $350 annual total)

Depending on supplier (Origin in our prior instance) the daily cost of connection is approx $280pa (77c pd) before any gas is consumed. There is also a variable charge rate for gas that effectively discounts higher consumption. ( 5.4c/MJ drops to 3.4c/MJ rounded rates). These are current rates!

One of the family when purchasing a replacement stove/oven converted from a reticulated town gas to a bottled supply. The only cost was for a gas fitter to install a bottle connection point to replace the town connection, and change the jetting for the gas heater/HW. A less than 12 month payback!

P.s. we have a Woolies 9kg swap bottle on standby on a second gas connection for when the big bottle empties.

1 Like

I’ll have a look at the next bill, I am not sure about the annual supply rate. I use both gas and electricity for cooking, I’d probably like to switch to electricity for cooking permanently (I periodically break out a portable twin hotplate as a temp measure and then go back to the gas)… since getting my Netatmo weather gadget, which measures indoor CO2 as well, I find that the levels go up too far when cooking… with electricity, its nowhere near the same levels (1800ppm vs about 8-900ppm). The expense of converting from gas to electric is defeating me at the moment, I need to get my HWS sorted first.


In another thread we were talking about the impact of network costs. This link to my post in the topic (2013 prices) is an interesting breakdown by State/Territory of the retail bill cost plus why we pay so much for electricity supply from a 2015 ABC article:


An article regarding electricity prices around Australia.

Isn’t it just great to see that Ergon is allowed to compete with the other retailers in Brisbane, postcode 4000, whilst maintaining an absolute monopoly in regional Qld?


1 Like

Got an email from Energy Australia today, telling me that although I will be on the default lower plan, I could do better by taking out one of their other plans. Except, I ran the numbers last time they emailed me (just a couple of months ago) and I wont be doing better. I am home most of the time, using electricity all day, I have no use for off peak or shoulder or whatever. The base rate is what I need and I’ll stay with it for now.


A post was merged into an existing topic: Nuclear power

Some interesting points on the impact of the merit order effect on power prices.


Getting back to the original topic about current energy price rises, it might be interesting to see what default market offers have been made by the Energy retailers to forum members. This is one from Origin for Brisbane:


What is pleasing is both the energy component and the daily supply charge have decreased for Tariff 11 (standard tariff)…on the energy component for off peak (Tariff 33) has also decreased slightly.

1 Like

An article regarding the NEM and electricity prices.

Too bad for the long-suffering consumers.


It appears the ABC headline can be interpreted two different ways.

Looking at the detail in the report might offer a different understanding?

Firstly the report is looking at the wholesale market rate (cost of generation). This is approx one third only of the average electricity bill!

The second consideration is that for coal fired generation the overall costs of operation are not linear. This is due to the inherent design of the plant that is aligned to constant load while daily demand varies. The report considers how solar PV is affecting one part only of the daily demand cycle, and how the NEM market pricing is structured.

The complexity of the discussion is evident in the following graph from the ABC report.

As a separate discussion point from the complex market pricing in the ABC report.
While for the Qld example, black coal power still has peaks in the morning and evening, it is the red graphic that is also a significant provider of peak power for August. Red represents natural gas generation, which is very expensive compared to coal.

Renewables such as Solar PV need the support of large scale pumped storage, grid sized batteries, and increased residential distributed battery storage to substitute for as much of the daily peak demand. Although any benefits of further investment and development in these remain some time off.


From what I understand, it isn’t about the price but ability to provide rapid network support.

Natural Gas has a very different generation profile to coal. Coal it is very difficult to have fast ramp up and ramp down of generation.

I suspect that AEMO requires coal generators to provide a constant generation output based on the average expected daily demand…which can be estimated. AEMO would be setting a coal generation level to ensure that coal generation doesn’t cause an overloading of the network. As it is difficult to ramp up/down quickly, the generation level set for coal would be conservative and shortfalls made up with gas generation.

The renewable generation component is not constant and varied due a wide range of factors. Some days (even with the same day) renewable generation will be very high making the need for gas generation support less (renewables would meet much of the shortfall between coal fire generation and demand)…while other days the renewable generation will be low requiring a greater need for gas support in conjunction with renewables. As the renewable generation is highly variable temporally, gas would be needed to buffer this variation (for August in Qld, the area of the red on the the graph).

It would possibly be concerning if there was no gas generation as it could indicate that there may be a over-generation event and there was a likelihood that different generation types are removed from supply to the network. This could include coal fired generation where coal is burnt, but no electricity is exported onto the grid from the generators (not an efficient outcome).

These are the most expensive form of network storage and are very expensive compared to hydro storage…which is currently the first level storage being adopted.

As indicated in another thread, if battery storage for excess renewable generation was only used to support the grid in times where there was a generation deficit, the average consumer electricity bills would go through the roof. There have been costs such as $1.5T to maintain current reliability standards (or around $10K/yr per household) and to meet future electricity demands (inc. when electricity replaces.traditional fossil fuel uses).

Pity the consumer trying to make sense of it all. Audrey Zibelman (Australian Energy Market Operator CEO) has compared running the grid of the future to conducting an orchestra. It’s complicated. We’re in transition, which only compounds the complexity.

At present, we have:

  • Coal generators which must be kept running (the origin of the term “base load”).
  • Gas turbine generators, which are increasingly expensive, but can start up quickly.
  • Renewables, which have variable, but very cost-effective output.
  • Pumped hydro, which originated as a way to store some of the base load that would otherwise have gone to waste.
  • Batteries which are not great for bulk energy storage, but excel at rapid response, frequency control and grid stabilisation.
  • Demand response, which is a developing market in Australia.

On top of all this, our energy pricing is still more appropriate to the twentieth century than the 21st.


Yep, and it only needs 600 pages to explain it, although the short version has been noted in our discussion previously.

1 Like

I think I almost understand, but I could be wrong:


The ACCC was more direct.


The NEM is designed to allow higher prices!

June 2018. So little has changed, although Snowy 2 has now had the support of two consecutive Prime Ministers. Well sort of.

However, as is evident in the previous post, and from the ACCC assessment, the current NEM pricing mechanism fails to deliver lower power costs for consumers.