The mainstream media, the Murdoch press in particular, rails against the supposed impact of renewable energy and carbon pricing schemes on electricity prices, yet remains curiously silent on the massive impact of network charges on low volume electricity users.
Last month RenewEconomy brought attention to the huge rise in fixed charges in Queensland. Despite the gushing press release announcing reduced bills picked up uncritically by the local media, the real horror was the impact on low energy users, single person households, pensioners and solar and energy efficient households in particular.
We thought at the time that the impact translated into an effective rate of more than 40c/kWh for those low energy users. We were wrong.
While scrolling through the latest report from the Queensland Competition Authority to respond to the latest bit of trolling from fossil fuel apologists, I came across these graphs below.
In the first, it shows how the lowest energy users have been hit by big rises in their bills, mostly from the huge increased in fixed tariffs. A household using just 1MWh of electricity from the grid, faces an annual bill of $712. That is the equivalent of 71.2c/kWh. Their bill has risen at least 16 per cent.
Energy hogs, on the other hand, have been delivered significant cuts. A household guzzling 10MWh a year, presumably with air con and pool pumps, are paying an effective rate of just 29c/kWh.
Of course, it goes against everything that the state government, which owns the networks, has been proposing for the last 10 years on energy efficiency, and the encouragement of solar PV, and more recently their rhetoric around battery storage.
Indeed, this next graph shows the figures in a different way. The bill increases for low energy users (look to the left) have risen by up to 35 per cent in some cases, for those using little or no electricity (holiday homes?) during the year.
This data also shows that more than half a million homes – using 3MWh or less of electricity in a year – have been hit by rising bills in 2015/16, courtesy of higher fixed charges, despite the rhetoric from the government.