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Queensland the big winner under Energy Australia power cuts

23 June, 2018
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EnergyAustralia is slashing electricity bills in Queensland but keeping prices flat for the rest of its east coast gas and electricity customers.

Small business electricity customers in Queensland will receive a 7.2 per cent price drop while residential customers will get a 3.8 per cent reduction.

EnergyAustralia has kept power prices unchanged for much of the east coast, apart from Queensland, where it has slashed rates.

 

EnergyAustralia chief executive Cath Tanna estimated this would result in savings of $80 a year for Queensland households and $470 for businesses.

In NSW, electricity prices will fall marginally, down 0.2 per cent for households and 0.1 per cent for businesses. However, Ms Tanna said consumers on the Secure Saver program would receive a 3 per cent reduction, saving about $65 a year on their power bill. About 80,000 EnergyAustralia customers are currently on this plan.

EnergyAustralia said in order to keep these prices flat it is taking on $50 million in costs that would normally be passed through to customers.

Prices remain unchanged for South Australia.

Major competitors Origin and AGL have also carried out minimal cuts or frozen electricity prices for the year ahead, although AGL has slightly lifted gas rates.

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Ms Tanna said sharper falls in network and wholesale prices in Queensland, compared with the rest of the east coast, allowed for EnergyAustralia’s reduction in price for the state.

“Wholesale prices can be between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of bills, while network costs – the poles and wires – can be up to 50 per cent,” Ms Tanna told Fairfax Media.

“The Hazelwood and Northern [coal-fired] power stations shutting on short notice was a shock to the market. Ever since, families and small businesses have had a tough time keeping the lights on and their energy costs under control.

“It’s definitely good news for customers - as the wholesale and network prices are starting to go down, we’re passing this on. Hopefully, we’re turning a corner.”

She said the broader trend of retailers lowering forwards prices was “the first tangible sign that the pressure on household power bills is easing”.

The energy watchdog will investigate suspicions that electricity networks have overcharged consumers to cover tax bills.

“There’s more to do but the ingredients are there for an affordable, stable and reliable energy system.”

Ms Tanna also responded to an energy regulator report released on Friday that said consumer trust in the sector was at its lowest ever point.

“We don’t expect customers to trust us just because we ask them to, it’s about actions and that’s why we’ve dropped our prices,” she said.

She said ongoing investment in new generation was helping reduce pressure and would stabilise wholesale electricity prices.

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