EnergyAustralia: Rooftop solar to blame for falling wholesale electricity costs & demand

The explosion of rooftop solar PV has caused grief to another major incumbent utility in Australia, with EnergyAustralia, one of the big three utilities in the country, blaming it for contributing to falling demand and plunging wholesale electricity costs.

EnergyAustralia has reported a sharp slump in earnings for the last year – just $18 million compared to $236 million a year earlier – and its results have been made worse by $445 million on write-downs from its Yallourn brown coal generator, and some of its gas-fired generation assets.

The write-downs were caused because of the changing nature of the electricity market, with the increase in renewables taking away the peak pricing that fossil fuel generators once enjoyed and bringing down volume.

EnergyAustralia particularly noted the lack of big pricing peaks in the recent heatwaves in Victoria and South Australia, something analysts have attributed to the growing impact of rooftop solar PV and wind energy.

Energy Australia wants the Renewable Energy Target to be reduced, warning that it would force old and inefficient fossil fuel generation out of the market. Many would say that it is exactly what it is designed to do.

EnergyAustralia says the rise in retail electricity prices, mostly due to network costs, is encouraging those consumers to put on more solar panels, and embrace energy efficiency, which in turn is causing the fall in wholesale electricity prices .

EnergyAustralia said consumer behaviour and expectations are changing as a result of the sharp spike in retail prices, and the growing uptake of rooftop solar PV and energy efficiency products.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson