Power bills to rise by up to 31 per cent as energy crisis hits home

Electricity bills for hundreds of thousands of Australian households are set to soar by up to 31 per cent this year, even after the federal government’s emergency intervention brought down wholesale prices and avoided larger possible rises.

The Australian Energy Regulator on Wednesday released its draft decision on increases to the main caps on consumer energy bills from July 1, which will lift standard power bills by between $300 and $564 a year.

Power bills are set to soar, with prices driven up by an international energy crunch. Credit:Joe Armao

The regulator’s so-called “default market offers” – price caps on what retailers can charge households and businesses that do not take up special deals or bundle utilities bills – would rise in all states across the east coast electricity grid.

From July, default offers will increase by up to 19 per cent in Queensland, 21 per cent in South Australia and 23 per cent in NSW.

In Victoria, where the state’s Essential Services Commission determines its own default offer, the price cap for households will rise by 31 per cent or $426.

Federal Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the draft default market offer announced on Wednesday was 13 per cent lower than the regulator had originally projected for NSW late last year, 29 per cent lower for South Australia and 21 per cent lower for South East Queensland.

He said the government’s intervention to cap wholesale coal and gas prices, paid by power generators and passed through to retail customers had saved households between $268 and $530 of potential bills increases and had avoided up to $1,243 in additional increases for small business customers.

“The government, faced with large increases in the default market offer, urgently acted to curb spiralling prices of gas and coal and shield Australian families and businesses from the worst of these energy price spikes,” Bowen said.

Opposition climate change and energy spokesman Ted O’Brien said the rise in power bills showed the government was failing on its election commitment to lower prices by $275 by 2025.

“It’s disgusting to see Labor patting itself on the back while telling Australians that the energy price shocks will continue to hurt, but it could have been much worse,” O’Brien said.

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