CHOICE membership

Electricity Price Increases


I’m sorry?

Further evidence that ‘trickle down’ economics is garbage in reality.

Remind me again what evidence there is to justify the LNP’s desire /need to keep propping up the coal generators and their windfall profits??


A wild guess - donations and potential jobs for out of office LNP pollies? (/cynicism)


7:30 Report on ABC shortly is reporting on the windfall profits being made by coal fired generators.


The Federal Government will provide a small amount of assistance for low income Australians to help pay electricity bills.


Yes, and according to B Joyce soon to be followed by a new coal fired power station now given the go ahead by the government, Not!

Excuse the cynicism. There is already an answer to permanently reducing power prices across the NEM in the most recent ACCC recommendations.

Or Is it time to scrap the ACCC and just let government decide?
Given government seems to be ignoring it’s advice?


The ACCC has reported that electricity prices have increased 63% in a decade.

Just confirms what most people already knew.



Foodbank reports that people in SA needing their services have increase by 21% in the past 12 months.

I guess that it is a bit hard to pay the world’s highest electricity prices and actually have something to cook with it too.



And $75 is the number. Its laughable. Also, thats only for pensioners and low income. Bad luck if you’re on Newstart, you get nothing.


There has been much talk about the increase in costs because our electricity infrastructure being ‘gold plated’ and far in excess of what was required. But recently I have been hearing that the electricity infrastructure is ‘inadequate’ for the amount of solar connections that are coming on stream.

So how can the electricity infrastructure be both ‘gold plated’ and inadequate at the same time? Are these at different points in the system, or something else?

Could someone with more nous in these matters assist with an explanation please?


Could it just be more Polly-speak in order to justify the desire to open more mines?


Hadn’t thought about that @SueW. Surely they wouldn’t massage the truth? :thinking:


ROFL, you need to develop a healthy cynicism :slight_smile:


It has now been extended to Newstart.


So, a letter arrived from my energy company yesterday…Red Energy. Our winters are cold, reguarly below freezing overnite and often single figures during the day. I used my heater maybe a dozen times last winter, never more than couple hours at a time. I am dreading this winter.


As I understand it, the ‘gold plating’ was mostly to cater for demand peaks, such as in hot weather when large numbers of people arrive home from work and turn on the air conditioners. There has been a huge increase in AC installations in recent years, particularly in places such as SEQ, and that placed a big, but peaky load on the grid. I think much of the gold plating was done to the higher voltage sections of the grid, rather than to individual houses.

However, with so many people solar on for purely economic reasons these days (those doing it for environmental reasons generally did it long ago), the current flow is sometimes reversed during the day locally, significantly reducing those afternoon demand peaks, and moving the new lower peak to later in the day. The transformer taps are often set to a higher than standard (230VAC) voltage, so that when loads increase the voltage doesn’t drop below the legislated minimum, but when the current flows in the opposite direction, the voltage goes way too high, which is why so many people report their inverters dropping out during the middle of the day, due to high grid voltage. Larger cables between transformers and houses would mean less voltage drop, and more stable local grid voltages generally, but this isn’t really happening, instead export limits are imposed.

The poles and wires, and local transformers in areas of high density domestic PV system installations were generally not part of the gold plating. Those responsible for the grid were catering for increased peak loads, instead the solar boom has decreased peaks, and demand generally.
Someone should have seen this coming!

Also, the grid is constructed in a hub and spoke arrangement- the large coal, and to a lesser extent, gas fired generators are the hubs, with distribution out to areas of demand as the spokes.
Renewable solar and wind power is generally not going to be located where the fossil fuel generators are located, so the high voltage, high power transmission lines often are far away, so new transmission lines will need to be constructed. There’s an area of the grid in western Victoria known as the Rhombus of Regret, as the transmission infrastructure is very inadequate for the proposed renewable energy generation in that area.

Good renewable energy generation areas are often far from the main concentration of population around the SE coast of Oz, so significant new transmission lines are going to be required as the old fossil fuel generators are retired. Already some new solar and wind farms can produce electricity more cheaply than existing coal and gas power stations, so despite government rhetoric saying the opposite, I think the transition to renewable electricity generation is going to be rapid and unstoppable, but restrained by the lack of suitable transmission infrastructure.

A new Bass Strait undersea cable is probably going to be laid, to allow Tasmania to export more hydro and wind power, and at least one new SA to Vic/NSW transmission line will be required, as SA already frequently produces more wind and solar output than the state’s total demand, and more solar and wind is going to be installed there soon.


Yes it does sound strange, but possible.

The ‘gold plating’ related to investment in the electricity network to ensure that the network could operate in the highest forecast load events, even if these events were highly infrequent (could he one event every year/few years). The network was also built at N-1 which means one part of the network could be lost (network - 1 part) and the network would still function/meet the highest forecast load on the network. Such means there is redundancy built into the network to ensure the ‘lights stay on’ under all operational conditions. The redundancy and additional investment to cover all load/operating scenarios is what was called ‘gold plating’.

With the increase in car recharging, this changes the demand profile particularly at the distribution end of the network (distribution being the low voltage connection to the consumer). The distribution network has been historically designed based on anticipated loads from normal residential, commercial and industrial loads. Car recharging changes the load profile, namely substantially increasing it, on the distribution network. This increased loads means that in many cases, the local distribution network needs augmentation (increased network capacity) to support the additional load profiles.

The last major impact is solar. The network is designed to flow from the major generation sources to the consumer. Solar generation disperses this generation to parts of the network not designed for such generation. If the solar generation is less than demand on that particular part of the distribution network, then there is usually no major problems. If solar generation, through PV systems exporting to the local distribution network, exceed the load on the local network, the flow will change direction and excess electricity will try and be pushed out of the local distribution network to other parts of the network. This will create faults resulting in shutdown of the local network to protected the network (as the flow is irregular, exceeds local capacity and not what the network is designed for). In such cases the local distribution network would be inadequate for the solar installations and require significant augmentation to ensure that fault conditions don’t occur. The costs could be significant (replacing local wires, transformers, switching equipment + additional protection equipment to stabilise the network for rapid changes in generation) and would be borne by all consumers of network electricity through higher network charges.

The combination of car recharging along with solar exacerbates the problem as the peaks for generation (from PVs) and loads (from charging car batteries) occur at different times. It is forecast to be predominately at night for charging and daylight for PVs. This means, unless PV solar battery systems with sufficient capacity to recharge a car (which could run into $40K+), additional solar won’t offset the impact of the car charging and augmentation would be required to maintain the operational functionality of the local network.

Add in the additional complexity of potential smart networks (where local batteries systems can be turned on at any time to support the network by the network operator),
Which also needs a well designed bidirectional flow network, the potential impacts on the existing network can be significant (both cost wise and reliability).

It will be interesting to see how the consumer responds to potentially significantly higher power prices to cover car battery recharging, bidirectional flows on the network from PV systems and also to allow smart network operation. Add in the additional potential capital cost for private/public battery storage systems as well…it makes for interesting times in the coming decade(s).


The simple non technical answer? They gold platted the wrong bits! Ah!!!:sob::sob:

Possibly (reading public and industry commentary) because there was no comprehensive long term strategic plan for the industry?

Optionally? Upgrading the bits of the network needed to incorporate more distributed generation capacity, storage and return power flow may have provided much of the resilience supposedly delivered by the gold plating. It may have also reduced the need to upgrade capacity in many parts of the local networks. As there was no comparative business case/study on this basis we many never know?

And politics?

My minimal grasp of language relative to the enormity of the FU suggests I should leave a more expansive comment for anyone else that can do so in a few words.


Near enough! Although the reality may be that the poles and wires and transformers are not a concern. They will happily send power in either direction up to their full load rating without a hiccup.

For the more local distribution. The tap changing equipment/settings, the ability to control/direct the flows of power back into the grid, and some fault protection requirements are the areas that may most need to be considered. The response of the local networks to sudden shifts in loading (import vs export) due to cloud and weather effects may also require distribution configuration changes and control directly of local feeders.

Most local street level distribution utilises fixed tap changes ( voltage step down ratios) that work fine for steady loads of power flow in one direction only. The ratios need to constantly change as the load decreases or reverses flow and net feedin occurs. this is when local PV generation on a line increases to meet the total load demand from non PV connected properties on the same line.

One interesting solution that would minimise network upgrades may be to mandate battery storage with a percentage of PV installs. Would it be better to subsidise batteries rather than add more gold to the network (HV distribution excluded)? A second step would be to have controlled export from each household system. A variation on this would be for community battery storage attached to local distribution nodes which would still enable household export with less complexity of management?

The issues around the capacity of the national transmission grid are very different from those in the local networks. The national grid has morphed over time to match where the generation capacity has been built and match where the demand is. Adding more pumped storage or wind or solar or hydro export is no different to building a new coal fired power station and needing to upgrade the HV grid to send the extra power to the network. Any discussion that appends this issue as due to household PV generation or unique to renewables is less than reliable.


This isn’t an issue at all at the current time, with very few electric cars having been sold in Australia. I think it is just a fraction of 1% so far.
Even with 50% EVs, it’s been estimated that it will only cause a 15% increase in grid demand. By the time we get to that point, a significant portion will probably be covered by domestic or work PV charging systems anyway. Change in this sector will occur much faster than many surmise. Currently there are only a very few work places that offer charging, but it is sure to become huge in the future.

Over recent decades the fossil fuel generators offered cheap power overnight, as making a slight loss on generation was less costly to them than shutting down overnight and firing up again in the morning. This is why electric resistance hot water systems generally do much of their heating at night- to support “baseload” generation- the minimum practical output for mainly coal-fired generators.

People with PV solar should make sure they use their own solar power to heat water now, it will save them money. Electric car charging done at home can become a replacement for shifted hot water loads. Even with 15% more total demand, there is presently more than enough generation capacity on the grid to meet demand.


Thank you @gordon, @phb, and @mark_m for you rapid and informative answers.

So if I understand it, in simplistic terms the ‘gold plating’ was on parts of the infrastructure deemed necessary on an outdated model, whereas the ‘inadequacy’ is in the final sections of the infrastructure closest to the consumer.

In other words there was no contingency planning for future developments such as renewables away from the old mainstay electrical production hubs. And certainly the future demand for electric vehicles or new electric public transport (light rail/trolley buses etc) wasn’t even on the horizon.

Is that correct?