The surge in the price of compulsory network charges is taking its toll on low energy consumers, particularly those on low incomes, single households, and pensioners.
One Step Off The Grid is introducing a new segment called Bill Watch. And this week we kick it off with a bill sent in by Noel Clothier, a pensioner in a retirement village in suburban Brisbane.
Clothier is outraged by the high network charges, which now amount to $1.16 a day, or more than $423 over the year. That is despite the fact he is a low energy user, in the last quarter using around 4.5kWh a day, about half the average for a single person household.
The network charges now amount to 56.4 per cent of his bill, or $106 out of a total quarterly bill of $188. (Clothier’s total bill is reduced, thanks to a pensioner’s rebate).
That rebate, though, misses the point, Clothier says. He makes an effort not to consume too much electricity – he has an evacuated tube solar hot water unit and he doesn’t own an air-conditioner.
The same thing occurred in the previous quarter, when Clothier’s daily consumption was 5.6kWh (he was away on holiday for part of the last billing period) and his bill was $111 for grid access and $92 for electricity consumed.
Clothier says other retirees in his village are angry too. “Age pensioners are like bees. We are all alike. The problems of one are the problems of all. And there is a huge number of us. And it’s increasing fast.”
There has been a whole bunch of studies on the “fair value of solar”, including last week’s draft report from the Queensland Productivity Commission, which argued that the current payment (or subsidy as it calls it) is “fair”, so Clothier suggests that maybe this should be turned around.
“My remedy for the grid is this: The Commonwealth Government should nationalise it without compensation, forcing the owners to argue their case in the High Court for ‘fair value’.”
Meanwhile, Clothier is interested in getting solar and battery storage. He asks how many PV panels, plus battery storage capacity, would he need to supply his daily energy requirement? And what price would he be looking at? (He has an east/west sloping roofline.)
Also, if you have a case of bill shock worthy of our Bill Watch, particularly in other states – it could relate to high network charges, time of use tariffs, solar tariffs, or demand charges, please send them through to editor (@) reneweconomy.com.au