HOUSEHOLDS are being stung with power supply price rises of up to 39 per cent before using any electricity.
In a blow to Victorians scrambling to save money by using less power, analysis reveals they will pay as much as $477 this year without flicking a switch.
Energy Retailers Association of Australia chief Cameron O’Reilly blamed higher network, meter and green scheme costs for driving up “fixed” or service to property charges.
But St Vincent de Paul Society energy analyst Gavin Dufty said some businesses appeared to also be trying to claw back cash amid falling electricity consumption.
Fixed supply charges will jump by as much as $113 this year for customers with some retailers in some areas, the society’s analysis of January price rises found.
“Some of these significant increases are due to changes in poles and wires charges, but we believe another reason is companies making up for a shortfall in revenue from reduced energy consumption,” Mr Dufty said.
Origin Energy’s annual supply charge for the SP AusNet zone had surged 39 per cent to $386, the review found.
Neighbourhood Energy’s charge in the CitiPower network is up 37 per cent to $389, while Simply Energy’s charge in the United Energy area has also climbed 37 per cent to $422. At the other extreme, Australian Power and Gas supply charges lifted 3 per cent, and EnergyAustralia added 2-3 per cent in some zones.
Mr O’Reilly said consumers could shop around for the most suitable deal.
An Origin spokesman said higher costs had been passed on.
The analysis tracked published price changes for customers who are not on market offers. But Mr Dufty said households on contracts could expect similar percentage increases.
Customers in Melbourne’s inner west and north, the northeastern suburbs and eastern Victoria pay the state’s highest supply charges. Simply Energy’s $477 slug in the SP AusNet area was the steepest noted.
Mr Dufty said big fixed charges hurt modest users such as low-income and single households most.
However, large families were often better off choosing the lowest consumption rates rather than the smallest supply charge.
It’s a shame that Cameron O’Reilly doesn’t explain that the higher meter costs in Victoria are largely due to the smart meter costs blow out from $800 million to $2.3 billion, and that every household in Victoria, as part of their electricity bill, is now paying an average of $114 a year for the so-called privilege of having a smart meter in their home whether they like it or not.