Aussie Power Prices Are Seriously High

Aussie Power Prices Are Seriously High

It’s an age-old complaint that we pay too much for our gadgets here in Australia, but what about the electrons that power them? A new report — being widely quoted today — states that comparatively speaking, we’re paying way too much for power, although there’s an anti-carbon tax agenda chucked in there as well.

The report was made to the Energy Users Association of Australia (essentially a large trade group; think names like BHP, BP and the like) prepared by Carbon Market Economics. The report states that

Household electricity prices in Australia have risen by more than 40% since 2007, and are projected to rise by another 30% by 2013/14.

For whatever it’s worth, I’ve seen those figures now reported (in the context of Canadian prices) as being “250 per cent” in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. I’m unsure how they’ve reached those particular figures, but in any case a small part of the price disparity is (comparatively speaking) due to exchange rates, but not quite all of it. Out of 91 comparative countries or states, household power prices in Australia in four states made it into the top six.

“South Australia (third highest), New South Wales (fourth highest), Victoria (fifth highest),and Western Australia (sixth highest). Tasmania is the eleventh highest and only Queensland (sixteenth), the Australian Capital Territory (twenty-first) and the Northern Territory (twenty-ninth) lie outside of the top eleven.”

You’d be worse off in Denmark, who top the list, or Germany, where power prices only just tip South Australia for second spot. The report did break out individual US states for comparison; if you’re after some cheap wattage, apparently Idaho is the place to be.

Why That Electricity Price Study Can’t Be Trusted

The figures themselves are interesting, although like for like comparisons can be more complex than just pure numbers; Australia’s got a large physical area and low population density compared to many other countries, which can’t be helping power prices.

In any case, any report like that with that much big business behind it is unlikely to not have an additional agenda in there, and in this case it’s the carbon tax; in its press release trumpeting the research, the EUAA quotes its Executive Director Roman Domanski as saying that:

“These results pre-date the carbon tax that will commence on 1st July and add further to electricity price increases. The results also show that Australia’s prices can be expected to increase further and significantly in the next few years, which is likely to make our electricity prices the highest in the world.”

I’ve contacted the EUAA for clarification, but haven’t yet heard anything back. Regardless, I find it’s always interesting to see research like this and then see the underlying reasons why it’s been commissioned; not that the numbers are incorrect, but that there’s a potential agenda behind their release, no matter which side of that particular debate you sit.[EUAA]
Image: Charles Haynes