Another Electricity Price Hike On The Cards For WA Households?

Electricity prices in Western Australia

Image: Motorjan11

In a situation that’s become all too common, households in Western Australia may again be paying more for electricity from July 1 this year.

Citing “informed sources”, The West Australian says:

“..West Australians should brace themselves for about a 2 per cent power hike this year, meaning families can expect to pay about $1879 a year in power bills — a $36 increase on last year.”

2 per cent may not sound like a huge amount, but the West Australian says this would mean electricity bills have risen around 20 per cent in the last couple of years and there’s been a more than 100 per cent increase in electricity charges in WA since 2008.

Disconnection Rates Up

Earlier this month, WA’s Economic Regulation Authority1 released its Annual Performance Reports 2017/18 that indicate the rate of residential electricity disconnections in the state had more than doubled over the past two years (Synergy +118%, Horizon Power: +12.8%). 19,743 electricity customers were disconnected for not paying a bill in 2017/18, up from 15,935 disconnections in 2016/17.

In addition to rising electricity costs, the Authority says other factors in increased disconnections were growing unemployment and the WA Government making it more difficult for some to access the Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme

Green Energy Markets’ Tristan Edis said last week Western Australia should be relying more on large-scale wind power and solar energy due to the state having expensive underlying electricity costs as a result of being a relatively small market highly dependent on gas.

“But Synergy has a stranglehold on the market and WA isn’t fulfilling its potential,” Mr. Edis stated.

On a related note, in early April Synergy was accused by the ERA of overcharging industrial customers for the price of energy in the wholesale market by up to $102 million.

A Trigger To Go Solar?

Yet another electricity cost increase may be the proverbial straw that sees even more Western Australian households seeking to take control over their energy costs with solar power. However, regular comparatively small increases in electricity costs don’t appear to have the same effect as single large price hikes in terms of motivation to go solar. Mr. Edis says Western Australia hasn’t seen “the same degree of political heat and concern”.

Clean Energy Regulator data indicates more than 291,854 small-scale solar panel systems (<100kW capacity) had been installed in Perth and across WA as at March 31.

The Australian Photovoltaic Institute (APVI) estimates the percentage of dwellings in Western Australia with solar panels installed to be approximately 26.9% (January 2019).

Footnotes

  1. The ERA is Western Australia’s independent economic regulator
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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