Western Australia’s electricity rates will rise by nearly 20% by the end of 2012, according to a media statement (pdf) from the WA Premier’s office. The rise is in keeping with a broader national trend: Electricity prices across Australia are projected to rise by up to 37% by 2014.
According to the media statement, households will see a 7.5% rise in electricity prices from April 1, with another hike of 10% on 1 July–a cumulative rise of about 18% from current rates. Weekly costs for electricity users are expected to on average about $4.13 from 1 July, although hardship provisions will reduce this amount to $2.78 for low-income households.
Electricity price increases have been creating a media stir, with some asking why prices are so high in spite of Australia’s reliance on supposedly inexpensive coal as the main source of generation.
The WA Liberal government says that the increases were prompted by the previous Labour government’s mishandling of the break-up of the state-owned utility Western Power. “This Government will increase tariffs responsibly to ensure the lights stay on, while also considering the financial pressure many families are already under.”
Some also argue that increased, strategic State and Federal Government support for distributed sources of electricity generation, including small-scale solar PV installations, would help to alleviate pressures on the grid associated with meeting peak demand and thereby assist in slowing or halting the rise of electricity prices. Proponents claim that ‘distributed generation’ could benefit the grid if sufficiently high levels of penetration are reached.
Complementing this more general potential benefit on an individual level, small-scale solar PV systems already offer concrete benefits to their owners in the form of reduced electricity bills and guard themselves against rising electricity prices. Even in Western Australia, where no state-wide Solar Feed-in Tariff currently exists, system owners stand to save money by using power generated from their systems instead of purchasing it from the grid.
Solar system prices are at all-time lows across Australia. This fact, in combination with rebates available through the Federal Solar Credit program, mean that solar PV for homes have never been more affordable. (Notice: The discount available through the Federal Solar Credits scheme will be reduced from 1 July 2012. In order to be eligible for the current generous offering, systems must be installed by 1 July 2012.)
© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
He is now the communications manager for energy technology startup SwitchDin, but remains an occasional contributor to the Solar Choice blog.
James lives in Newcastle in a house with a weird solar system.
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