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Electricity prices already rising in 2012

4th Jan 2012

While the year in barely underway, electricity prices have already seen an increase in some parts of the country.

However, the rise may not come as much of a surprise, as a national energy body warned of potential jumps in cost.

The Energy Users Association of Australia (EUAA) voiced its concerns regarding the impact of the federal government's energy schemes - such as the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) - on the cost of electricity last week.

"We have examined the outlook for electricity costs under the SRES and - based on conservative assumptions - found that the SRES is likely to add $9.58 per megawatt hour to the cost of electricity in 2012," EUAA executive director Roman Domanski said (December 29).

Mr Domanski claimed that the Large-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) would also add $3.00 per megawatt hour to the price of electricity - "for a combined increase of $13 per megawatt hour".

"To put this in context, it is around 8 per cent on top of typical retail electricity prices at a time when everyone’s electricity bill is already increasing steeply, stretching the budgets of businesses and families," he continued.

While Mr Domanski acknowledged that there was a price to be paid for investing in renewable energy, he believed that the large take-up of solar installations eligible for credits under the SRES was a contributing factor to the potential increase in power prices.

"The costs of these schemes are borne by electricity users who are already seeing their electricity bills rise dramatically due to factors such as very large increases in network charges (the cost to transport electricity) and (from next year) the carbon tax."

Households in Victoria saw a rise in power bills of almost nine per cent - almost three times the rate of inflation - on January 1 due to retailers increasing fixed supply charges.

According to the St Vincent de Paul Society, the three leading energy providers in the state - who provide power to almost 70 per cent of the state - increased the cost of their service.

A spokesman for state energy minister Michael O'Brien told the Sydney Morning Herald (December 23) that the increases in Victoria - while significant - were below those in other states.

Households may wish to use the New Year as the opportunity to rely less on the power grid and instead utilise solar panel systems for their energy needs.

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar correspondent

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