Why Is Electricity So Expensive In Australia? All Reasons

Online articles were shared in 2018. Australians were looking for explanations for Why Is Electricity So Expensive In Australia? Prices along the eastern and southern coast of the nation increased by 130% from 2015 to 2017.

According to a number of authorities, these skyrocketing prices are the new normal. Following that, COVID and the raging bushfires struck, significantly impacting the electrical markets. This has impacted both commercial and residential customers.

Despite a nominal decline in electricity prices, many Australians have witnessed an increase in their bills. There are other factors at play here. The first important step in reducing energy bills is increasing awareness. Here are some reasons why electricity costs are so high nationwide and what you can do to change them.

Why Is Electricity So Expensive In Australia?

Most of Australia’s electricity still comes from coal- and gas-fired power facilities, even though we are adding renewable energy sources like solar and wind power at historic rates. Due to a global shortage of these fuels in 2023, the price of coal and gas has skyrocketed. The current situation is the result of four incidents.

Electricity So Expensive In Australia

Coal-Fired Generators Have Been Failing

First, gas has been used more frequently than usual due to power disruptions at coal-fired power plants. This year, more than a quarter of coal-fired plants have been offline most of the time, which is unusual. When that occurs, gas generators are designed into the system to take their place. Deliveries of coal to Origin’s Eraring power plant in NSW have run into issues.

Australia Is Running Low On Gas

Second, because of dwindling traditional gas supplies, primarily in offshore Victoria, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has been warning of gas supply issues in the southeast for some time.

A series of state government decisions have blocked onshore gas production in Victoria, while input terminals have either been rejected for environmental reasons or postponed owing to financial difficulties.

The Gillard administration rejected the notion of setting aside a specific share for domestic consumption, as was done in Western Australia in 2012. Victorian residents and businesses depend more on gas than other Australians due to historically low and abundant gas prices, and there needs to be more progress toward electrification.

Europe Wants Non-Russian Gas

Third, European nations have been driving up the price of liquefied natural gas on the global market by purchasing it from nations like Australia, Qatar, and the United States to lessen their reliance on Russian gas transported through pipes. Some exporters from Australia have gotten prices that are four times or more significant than usual.

Suddenly, There’s A Cold Snap

Finally, Australia’s east coast saw a cold snap that accelerated the winter’s peak in gas demand for heating. A projected gas shortage on the east coast, including gas to supply power plants, has been the immediate result of the conjunction of these four events.

Consumers of industrial gas who lack the security of a set contract are subject to potentially damaging pricing. Thankfully, customers using gas won’t see an increase in rates immediately because their retailers have contracts to supply gas.

Still, many households are paying more for electricity because gas-fired power plants had to be implemented to replace coal-fired plants. Canberra’s Parliament House is the site of a news conference where the minister for energy and climate change, Chris Bowen, addresses the media.

Quick Actions

In response to estimates that the spot price in Victoria will increase by $382, AEMO moved quickly and implemented a wholesale price cap of $40 per gigajoule. The “shadow price,” which would have occurred in the absence of the cap, reached $800 on Tuesday.

Additionally, AEMO activated the so-called Gas Supply Guarantee Mechanism to guarantee gas for power generators. Although a price of $40 per gigajoule is financially devastating for large industrial consumers and AEMO cannot suddenly source gas that isn’t there, these actions have been practical.

No Overnight Answer

To obtain accurate information and guidance, Chris Bowen, the new minister for weather change and energy, is already collaborating closely with AEMO, his state and territory counterparts, and businesses. But there is no immediate solution, as Treasurer Jim Chalmers stated on Tuesday.

In 2017, the Turnbull administration implemented the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism in response to worries that Queensland’s liquefied natural gas exports would one day result in a domestic gas shortage. It was also concerned that gas producers were charging less for their product domestically while selling it abroad. Government interference has typically been a threat, so supply has been guaranteed.

The technique, however, is unlikely to be successful in solving the current issue for two reasons. First, it is physically impossible to transport the gas needed in Victoria from Queensland, where it is awaiting export. And second, the system can’t lower prices because they are set worldwide, much to the chagrin of many gas consumers. It only addresses supply.

Access To Electricity: Poles And Wires

In addition to inflation over the previous ten years, electricity prices in Australia have climbed by 63%. Access to energy is one of the critical causes of this. In certain places, the energy price is double what it is to access it. Except for South Australia, where generation costs are higher, these costs account for most of a power bill.

The network of poles and wires surrounding your home or place of business determines your accessibility, and this network accounts for about half of the typical household payment. According to sources, the latest price hike results from much-needed network improvements.

With these improvements, the historical underinvestment in network maintenance and the demand for more capacity is being addressed. Poles and wires in New South Wales and Queensland are the most straightforward explanation for Australia’s exorbitant rates compared to other countries.

This is a result of the network overhaul, which cost several billions of dollars. Poles and wires are less expensive for inhabitants in cities like Victoria. Prices are still significantly higher in Victoria than they are globally, though. There are three main parts to your bill, so be aware of that for a better understanding. These consist of the following:

  • Retail and wholesale prices, which fluctuate in response to supply and demand
  • The price of cables and poles
  • The expense of environmental regulations

The three elements above account for 39%, 53%, and 8% of Australia’s total population.

Retail Margin For Those Selling The Electricity

Electricity retailers have significantly influenced the rise in consumer costs. Consumers are presented with complicated pricing systems, and it is challenging to evaluate prices throughout the market due to a lack of transparency.

Inactive customers are overpaying for electricity because standing offers allow providers to determine prices. Retailers earn handsomely as a result, while consumer costs go up.

Australians overpay for power annually, according to a recent analysis. Unfortunately, a significantly more expensive bill is frequently the result of a confused bill and a lack of comparison shopping.

Additionally, merchant discounts have become very difficult because of the conditions included. These discounts depend on the consumer making on-time payments; those who can’t frequently incur exorbitant late penalties. These fees have served as a trap for lower-income households because they can mount up to hundreds of dollars annually.

According to a survey by the Grattan Institute, profit margins in Victoria are more than those in other retail industries and more than twice what regulators deemed “reasonable” when setting power pricing.

Victorians would have an additional million in their pockets each year if the profit margins of energy retailers were the same as those of other retail enterprises. Millions of consumers annually fund even the sales and marketing efforts of the energy sector. The investigation also discovered little relationship between a bill’s size and the apparent discount provided.

Policy Failures

Why is power so expensive in Australia when many people enquire about its source? It’s crucial to reflect on the failed policies of the past ten or so years. Although numerous factors contribute to Australia’s high electricity rates, government choices have steered the National Electricity Market in the wrong direction over the years.

Every stage of the supply chain saw the making of these choices. The federal government still needs to establish a successful strategy to guarantee dependable, affordable, low-emission electricity. The government’s green programs are one central area of concern.

These regulations are to blame for the 16% increase over the last ten years. These measures weren’t successful for the money they cost. The truth is that states like Queensland and Victoria are advancing state-based renewable energy and carbon targets, endangering the stability of the electrical system. The result is higher energy costs.

The current market system is likewise fraught with fundamental problems. New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland governments made choices that resulted in consolidated markets by defying the ACC C’s recommendations. This came about as a result of running and owning generation assets.

Three enterprises’ generation assets were combined into two in Queensland, and similar events took place in NSW. For instance, both of the generators owned by Macquarie Generation were reliable to AGL. There was a missed chance for a more competitive market structure by not selling them to distinct buyers.

7 Considerations To Lower Your Energy Bills

Consider Switching Providers

According to Gibson, the best and worst plans on the market differ by hundreds of dollars, assuming you live in a state where you can move between carriers. “You are overcharged if the price exceeds the government reference price.”

Victorians can use Victorian Energy Compare and are eligible for a $250 rebate just for visiting the website and comparing costs. People and businesses in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and the ACT can compare prices from various providers through the government website Energy Made Easy.

Seek Out Concessions And Rebates

Most state and territorial governments provide low-income households, holders of concession cards, and retirees with energy-related subsidies. Others provide incentives in exchange for measures like installing more energy-efficient home appliances or changing from halogen to LED downlights. On www.energy.gov.au, concessions and rebates search engines are available.

Beware Vampire Power

You might not be aware that power is still being used even when appliances are unplugged and turned off. This is referred to as vampire power in the business. According to a bill, appliances in standby mode accounted for 15% of Gibson’s usage at one point. “They can pile up,” says Gibson. “One of my retailers used to provide me a graph of where all my power was going.”

Check Your Tariff

Check your bill to determine if you are on a single rate or a time-of-use tariff. While time-of-use tariffs have peak and off-peak times when power is more or less expensive, single-rate tariffs charge a flat amount for energy usage. Utilizing appliances during off-peak hours can save costs for homes with time-of-use tariffs.

Avoid Power Guzzlers

Heating, cooling, hot water, pool filters, and pool heaters are the most significant power guzzlers in terms of energy consumption and efficiency, according to Mr. Gibson. Utilizing these appliances more wisely can help save money by limiting their use, running them during off-peak hours, and adopting eco-friendly settings. Avoid running the dishwasher or washing machine only halfway complete, and choose to line dry your clothes rather than using a clothes dryer.

Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient

If you have the money, adding or upgrading solar panels can be cost-effective, as can making sure dwellings are well-insulated and that windows and doors are tightly sealed. Any appliances being upgraded or installed should also consider their energy efficiency.

Re-Think Gas

According to Gibson, the era in which gas was much less expensive than electricity is over; thus, homeowners should consider electric models when replacing or updating appliances.

Gas heating, cooking, and hot water were significantly cheaper when installed, but that is no longer the case. In the long run, switching to electricity and using solar panels to power it will be the most affordable method to heat and cool your home or your hot water, he claims.


The above information is helpful for you to learn about Why Is Electricity So Expensive In Australia? Most of Australia’s fossil fuels, including coal and gas, are exported abroad. The cost of generating energy from these fossil fuels is growing as the price of coal, gas, and oil (and transportation expenses) rises globally. This has led to an increase in wholesale energy prices on the domestic market.

Several recent price increases are also associated with supply chain disruption brought on by coal plant outages and a sharp rise in demand due to adverse weather occurrences. The competition between Russia and Ukraine has also caused uncertainty in the world energy market, which has resulted in a vast supply shock as most European nations have rejected Russian oil and gas imports.

Energy costs are anticipated to continue rising until the war is resolved and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) raises its oil output for export, which would relieve some of the price pressure on other fossil fuels.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is causing the energy crisis in Australia?

Fossil fuels, especially gas, Australia’s most expensive energy source, are the foundation of this issue; the IEA research has made this very evident. This global analysis identifies a simple, cost-effective solution: a quick switch to renewable energy.

Is electricity in Australia expensive?

June 2022, Australia the cost of electricity, which covers all costs associated with the energy bill, including the cost of power, distribution costs, and taxes, is 0.224 U.S. dollars per kWh for consumers and 0.244 U.S. dollars per kWh for companies.

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