Tracey Joynson

Qld power prices to rise as NSW prices fall

QUEENSLANDERS could be hit by almost 10% in power price rises in the next three years, while New South Wales consumers could get an 11% fall in their electricity bills.

Forecasts for energy prices in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and actual results for this financial year were released by the Australian Energy Market Commission on Thursday.The Sunshine State forecasts are dependant on decisions yet to be made by the Queensland Competition Authority and Australian Energy Regulator. But the tentative figures still show consumers the predicted impacts on their bills.

The report shows Queensland consumers face a likely annual average rise of 3.2% on their power bills out to July 2017, while NSW residents can expect an average of about 5.8% in falls on their bills each year.

It shows prices are being driven up in Queensland due to the state's solar bonus scheme, which accounts for 8.7% of total bills, as well as planned network investments to replace aging power poles and wires. This offsets savings from the carbon price removal.

But the picture is different in NSW, where prices are instead being driven down by the carbon price removal and new national regulations being rolled out in 2015-16 to prevent over-investment in poles and wires.

Wholesale costs in both states are expected to increase moderately in the three years to 2016-17, due to higher domestic gas prices created by linking domestic prices to the global gas market. But those rises are unclear in Queensland, as decisions by the AER, QCA and State Government on prices and the solar bonus scheme are not expected until next year.

In New South Wales, the moderate rises in gas prices were expected to be partly offset by falling demand.

AEMC chairman John Pierce said to save money consumers should consider switching their electricity providers if possible.

The savings forecast from changing providers could amount to 8% or up to $165 in New South Wales and 7% or up to $93 in Queensland.



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