Australia’s Soaring Electricity Prices

Cost Of Living in Australia: Electricity Revisited

Every year here in Australia electricity prices rise in every state (except Victoria, I’ll come to that later) by a percentage which is agreed by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).

Here in Queensland, the agreed percentage increase for the year 2010/11 was 13.29%; it struck me as quite high. Turns out that this latest increase will mean that Queensland electricity prices will have soared by more than 50% over the four years to 2011. In all the blah blah blah trying to justify this rise we were told it was a symptom Queenslanders have to put up with for living in a fast growing state.

I decided to do some research.

Over the last three years electricity prices have risen by:

  • QLD 35.8%
  • NSW 40.2%
  • NT  27.3%
  • WA  26.5%
  • TAS 29.2%
  • SA  25.2%
  • ACT 33.0%

So, I wonder what blah blah blah the excuse was for the huge price rises in the other states, especially NSW? Are we all fast growing? This is all quite hard to understand when we have more coal around here than you can wave a stick at.

Next I tried to find out what the exact cost per kilowatt hour for electricity is in each and every state. But as soon as you search for “compare electricity prices” you are presented with those websites that encourage you to search for and switch to a cheaper electricity provider. So I decided to take a look.

Last time I looked at the cost of electricity in Australia I suggested that the plans here were much simpler than those back in England. Today, I’m thinking of changing my mind about that. Checking through the websites & there were no shortage of tariffs and plans to choose from.

First, let’s look at goswitch….

goswitchAfter completing their four step process they told me if I switched to the Click Easy plan with Click Energy I’d save around $286 per year, or 10.7%.

goswitch savingsThen I tried switchwise….

switchwiseAfter going through a very similar four step process they told me if I switched to Australian Power and Gas I would save $356 a year.

switchwise savesBut with both of them it was a little more confusing than that. When they make their calculation they ask who your current supplier is and which plan you are on. Well, I’m with Origin Energy and my plan is called GreenEarth and uses 20% wind.

But the choices I was offered under their drop-down menu were either 50% wind or no wind at all. Obviously neither is correct for my plan but if I selected the 50% wind switchwise suggested they could save me $726 a year!

So, I got confused. It doesn’t take much. But I needed to make a decision; there was money to be saved! But who should I go for? Then I read in the notes that energy prices change across the board on first July every year. Aha, a perfectly valid excuse for me to procrastinate.

So I’ve delayed by decision until I see the new prices. But I will be going back to it for sure.

But it is a fact that over the last 12 months I have spent $2,685 on electricity and goswitch say I could lower that to $2,392 and switchwise say $2,270. So I could be looking at saving up to $400 a year. That’d be nice! And neither of the electricity suppliers they are suggesting have a minimum contract or a cancellation fee, so what have I got to lose?

I don’t know, but I still didn’t do it. But I will next month.

But I’ll tell you what I did find amusing, as I was going through my electricity bills doing my research, I saw a letter from my electricity suppliers warning me that the rates were going to go up. Rather helpfully they gave me some tips on lowering my electricity bills along the lines of……

  • Try not to crank the air conditioning up too much.
  • Get some of those energy-saving bulbs.
  • Switch appliances off at the mains when you’re not using them.

Well, that’s exactly what I need isn’t it? Tips on saving money from somebody who has raised their prices by over 50% in the last four years! I feel like writing back with a simple tip for them…..

  • Try not to crank up the directors salaries too much.

Last time I compared electricity prices, I called it a draw between England and Australia. With these soaring prices, surely England is now cheaper for electricity, especially as the pound is still so weak.

At the current exchange rate of $1.71 AUD to the pound, I spent £1,570 on electricity over the last 12 months. Three years ago a years worth of electricity in England cost me £1320, so if electricity has gone up by about 5% per annum since then, there’s still not much in it.

But if you check out the average salaries for the two countries in my post called Cost of Living in Australia: Salaries Compared and use £26,470 for the UK and $62,270 here in Australia, my electricity has cost me 4.31% of the average salary here whereas back in England would have been nearer 5.7%.

And I’m only on 20% wind, perhaps I should be on at least 50% wind! My friends tell me I’m 100% wind. Moving on.

I said I’d come back to Victoria.

Prices of electricity in Victoria have been deregulated, which I guess means they are relying on the competitiveness of the electricity suppliers to keep the prices down. So is their electricity cheaper than ours here in Queensland? The best quotes I got were…

  • Victoria:   Fixed Charge (Quarterly) $72.46 Rate 18.315 cents per kWh inclusive of GST.
  • Queensland: Fixed Charge (Quarterly) $18.78 Rate 16.291 cents per kWh inclusive of GST.

So much for deregulation.

PS. Note to big sister whose holiday here last month was marred by the almost continual rain. It rained again today here…… for the first time since you left. See, I told you it was you!

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{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Trevor August 27, 2012, 3:28 pm |

    I live in Victoria where power privatization started. I signed with Red Energy early in 2012. Price per kW hour was 20.2c now 23.8c (up 17%). Service to property charge per day was. 65c now. 80c (up 23%). The carbon tax was only supposed to add about 10%. Apparently consumers have to pay for all the new poles and wires. Why?- Powercor who maintains them is a private company. This grab for cash has turned into a free-for-all.

    • BobinOz August 29, 2012, 4:07 pm |

      It should be illegal really, state governments ought to step in and put a limit on these increases. Campbell Newman, our Premier here in Queensland, is already trying to put the boot in on Origin Energy, not sure where it will lead but lower prices would be good.

      • Trevor August 29, 2012, 5:13 pm |

        He’s already on the nose. Why emigrate to the worst state in the country-full of cyclones, hurricanes and tornadoes? Have you seen the movie “Wake in Fright”. It wasn’t set THERE for nothing. Wake up with the bedside light on and radio 3aw in Melbourne. Most Australians woke up to QLD.
        ages ago. It ain’t so bad in Victoria. You can help us.

        • BobinOz August 30, 2012, 7:38 pm |

          We don’t get hurricanes!

          Not so sure why you don’t like Queensland, I love it here. They made the film “Nightmares” in Victoria, doesn’t make it a bad state.

          Anyway, what do you mean “You can help us”?

  • whinging pom July 11, 2011, 9:57 am |

    Cheers Bob,

    Funnily enough, I saw one news story last week on tv. that a 95 year old was taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia. Wonder if he was the only one (and this is related to electricity prices?)

    Best wishes/

    • BobinOz July 18, 2011, 8:30 pm |

      I didn’t see that one, but I’m sure he won’t have been the only one. Plenty of places around here that get very cold at night in winter, so I’m sure there are others. Whether it is a big problem though, I’m not so sure.

  • whinging pom July 8, 2011, 12:58 pm |

    In the meantime folks, I look forward to spring but would be interested if any of your bloggers have any information on the incidence of hypothermia in the elderly in Australia in winter?
    I ask because of the soaring electricity prices. Not all seniors have access to the money needed to install solar panels.
    Incidentally, there is a big increase in heart attacks in the winter so keep warm if you can folks. This has been a cold winter.

    • BobinOz July 10, 2011, 3:27 pm |

      Personally, I’ve not heard any stories but I’m sure it does happen. Some parts of this country can get very cold at night.

  • whinging pom July 5, 2011, 10:04 am |

    Calin, I forgot to wish you well with your migration application. Good luck to you and to your family.

    • BobinOz July 7, 2011, 2:02 pm |

      Yes, we all wish Calin well and hope he finds a way in.

  • whinging pom July 5, 2011, 9:45 am |

    Don’t know whether to laugh or cry at Calin’s comments – I saw something similar (not as dire though) in Poland when the Communist regime collapsed. Puts my freezing cold house into perspective. Oh! must buy some more candles!

  • BobinOz November 24, 2010, 9:29 pm |

    Hehe, yes, can’t beat football and beer. Hope to see you here soon.

  • Calin Cristian November 24, 2010, 2:09 am |

    I couldn’t make my mind. Beer or wine? I should know that English people love watching football and beer.

    Best regards, Cristi!

  • BobinOz November 24, 2010, 1:19 am |

    No Calin, you have not bored me at all, far from it. It’s good to hear your thoughts about your country and before I moved here to Australia, I did get to see many many countries in Europe. But my biggest regret, and I’m not just saying this, it really was my biggest regret, was that I never got to see Romania.

    Sure, the country does have its problems as you have pointed out, but I’m also sure it has huge amounts of charm. I imagine bumpy country lanes navigated by donkeys pulling rickety carts. I really would have loved to have seen it, but for some reason never did.

    Maybe one day I’ll go back to Europe, and if I do, I’m going to make sure I get to see Romania. But by then, hopefully you’ll be here in Australia.

    So I’ll look forward to having that drink with you sometime, but I’ll pass on the wine. I’m a beer man.

    Take care!

  • Calin Cristian November 23, 2010, 11:51 am |

    I’ve found a nice presentation of Romania on youtube:

    I like this one because it presents the good parts of the country without exaggerating. It seems Romania is a nice country to live in; that’s right if you have money to spend and you don’t live in a city or a bad neighbourhood, and you are lucky to have a good road (a road that doesn’t look like the surface of the moon; I exaggerate about this, but only major roads have a good surface). Those facts aren’t the ones that made me take the decision to move in another country after graduating and working 1-2 years to earn enough money to complete the process of emigration. With the money I’ll earn (Ship’s Officer), I could live like a king (joking :P, but like the women said around 33 minute), but I can’t pass over problems like:
    -30-40 year old fire-trucks(80%). In countryside usually the buses are over 20 years old.
    -The medical system has crashed after communism has fallen. You are afraid to go to a state hospital. If you are sick, you must take a thermometer with you, because there are great chances you won’t find one in the hospital; also, you must buy your medicine; don’t forget the money for nurses and doctors too. Although the medical system should be free of charge for the people that pay for it (every person was forced to pay for this service, so you would thing there should be enough money in the budget)
    -The pension system is to the ground. After working 40-45 years you receive 100 euros/month if you are lucky. I believe over 60% of the pensions are unde 150 euros/month (Almost all older persons I know don’t earn over this value). I don’t know how old people can buy there medicines and food.
    -Corruption level is out the chart.
    -Police doesn’t do it’s job proper.
    -If you pay enough you can become a doctor/lawyer/etc. without going to school. You can get your driving license even if you don’t know to read…
    -Sewage system is old and nobody cares; Usually, at least twice in spring the system fails, and some important portions of city are under water.
    -From my point of view, the country is in worse situation that 20 years ago; If you remove shopping centres and all kind of shops, nothing changed. Sorry, we have to build our industry from the bottom-up. After 1992, 80-90% of the factories were closed, destroyed or sold to private companies as bargain (<30% of real value). Recently they sold companies like petrol, electricity and some other indispensable ones to other countries. As long as they obtain the right commission from the transaction it's good to sell.
    -My biggest concern: Unknown future for kids.

    Romania is a nice country to live in if you succeed to isolate you from the problems I've mentioned. It's really nice to move to mountain. My parents recently bought some land at mountain and started building a house. There are somewhere around 10 neighbours on a 2 km radius and the main road is 2 kms away. This is a solution to isolate you from lots of problems. It will be harder for them to go shopping in winter, because the road isn't arranged. They wanted to access the European Found, and the mayor asked for 25% of the money before signing the contract (regarding corruption). So they had to make their own road, as much as their pocket permitted, so in winter it will be harder to climb down the road.

    I hope I haven't bored you, but in this way I remind myself why is better to leave this country as soon as possible.

    I hope we'll drink together a good wine in a few years!

  • BobinOz November 22, 2010, 8:25 pm |

    I just knew we’d have a relative of Dracula pop by one day, I had a feeling. Good to hear from you Calin!

    Well, prices in Romania are very cheap, aren’t they? Thank you for putting this all together for us. It seems to me you are paying less than 20% of the price we pay for water here in Australia, and your electricity is less than half price compared to ours. I don’t have natural gas here, so can’t compare that one.

    But there is also a big difference in monthly earnings. Here the average is more like $5000 a month. That’s about 15 times more than your average salary.

    So you are right, maybe Romania isn’t so cheap, but maybe Australia is. It depends whether you are earning your money in the country or whether you are taking it with you I suppose.

    Good luck with your plans, hope you make it to Perth soon.

  • Calin Cristian November 19, 2010, 9:07 pm |

    I am related to Dracula, but I’m not from Transylvania, I’m from Romania :P. I want to move to Perth in a few years(if I’ll obtain the Visa), and for a few days I’ve started doing some research about living costs in Australia.
    Compared to Romania, everything is more expensive.

    Prices in RO:
    -Water: 1m3 = 1.2 Euro (I believe it includes sewage); 200-250m3/year = 240-300Euro/year
    -Electricity: 1 kw/h = 0.11 Euro; For a 5 member family (with 2 TVs, 2 PCs, AC) we use 250kw/h per month, so 3000kw/h per year = 330Euro
    -Natural Gas: 1m3 = 0.70 Euro; Per year we use around 300m3(we have cold winters) = 210Euro
    unlimited broadband internet + TV: 1 month= 20Euro. Per year=240Euro
    -Food is usually a little bit cheaper here; I would say it’s somewhere around 80-90% of the price in Australia.
    -rent for a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom (+ living, kitchen) apartment is around 100-200 euro/month (Depending on city area and size of rooms; you can’t believe how small can be some of the rooms!) Per year 1200-2400 Euro.

    So the total cost for a family with 5 member is between 2220 and 3500 Euros per year and I don’t include food, clothes and other expenses.

    But with the minimum salary you can’t put anything aside for bad days: 180 Euro/month. Medium salary is around 250Euro/month.
    Comparing it to Australia’s minimum wage of 2500$/month (or at least this is what I’ve found on the internet till now) I would say that the prices are cheaper in OZ.

    1 Euro = 1.3 AUD

  • BobinOz September 24, 2010, 12:45 am |

    Excellent advice Steve.

    And for those who might feel too cramped in a shoebox apartment, stay in your big house but never turn anything on!

    There you go, super energy saving tip no.2.

  • Steve Povey September 23, 2010, 5:06 pm |

    Just had my first full months bill in….$80 with Australian Power & Gas….was really impressed!
    So my No1 tip to save cash…..move into a small shoebox apartment!

  • BobinOz September 9, 2010, 11:26 pm |

    $290 for 38 days, that’s equivalent to $686 a quarter. My last quarterly bill was $778. You were lucky! Synergy sound great!

    Welcome to Australia. Oh, don’t forget to turn off the lights.

  • Gill September 9, 2010, 9:02 pm |

    just to clarify… Dracula wasn’t FROM Whitby but he did come ashore there. He came from Transylvania – i think it was a bit too cold there for him.
    In any case, Bob thanks for all your research and for sharing it. I am in state of shock as I just got my FIRST bill for electricity…. moved to Perth from (funnily enough) Whitby (am not related to Dracula I can assure you) and am shocked that for a total of 38 days supply I am required to cough up $290. Can Synergy be for real????

  • BobinOz July 7, 2010, 7:11 pm |

    John, yes of course, you’re right. Blood does become thinner in a hot climate and that’s why hot becomes the new warm and warm becomes the new cold. Never new Dracula was from Whitby. Live and learn.

  • JOHN WILKES July 5, 2010, 6:24 pm |

    Bob , I understand that the reason the same temperature feels warmer here is to do with the blood. Blood becomes thinner in a hotter climate and visa versa. I suspect this is why Dracula chose Whitby on Englands north east coast.

  • BobinOz July 5, 2010, 1:04 pm |


    I do love your way of thinking sometimes. 1.3. Where did that come from? Did you do some kind of experiment in your shed? Mind you, I’m not disagreeing with you, I think you may be onto something. Fortunately I live in subtropical Brisbane, so I won’t be experiencing any of those ridiculously low temperatures. Oh, and I think I will pass on the sugar butties if you don’t mind.

  • JOHN WILKES July 3, 2010, 5:44 am |

    Just compared capital with capital…….London 24c , Canberra 2c. Now build in the ‘ relative ‘ factor ‘ of 1.3 . What ‘ factor ‘? , I hear you ask . Well, you’ve obviously acclimatized by now otherwise you wouldn’t be wearing a long-sleeved top at 15c. Temperatures in the UK feel hotter relatively to OZ and this is where my 1.3 factor comes in. 20c in the UK feels like 26c in Australia. Okay, so it is evening over here and an almost freezing morning in Canberra but then it will get hotter in London just as sure it will be freezing in Canberra in the next few weeks. Sugar butties, is that correct, Wangaratta 2c ( I use to live there ). Of course , I remember Wang went down to -5c in Winter. So it’s a case of , don’t live in just any place in OZ ( but then around 4M in Melbourne ) .

  • BobinOz June 30, 2010, 10:15 pm |

    Yes, I just checked the weather for London on Google. Right now it says its 22°C (at 1pm your time). Whoopeee! Glorious weather indeed. I guess you’ll be heading for the beach then. Still, it is the middle of summer there isn’t it? Here where it is the middle of winter, today it was 19° C….. and sunny. I thought that was glorious too.

    Mind you, it was real cold yesterday, about 15°C where I was. I’m not sure, but that may well have been the coldest daytime temperature I’ve ever known in Brisbane since being here. I had to put a longsleeved top on!

  • Theresa June 30, 2010, 1:18 am |

    I think it was you….. putting a hex on my holiday in OZ…. because we are having the most glorious weather here in sunny sarfend!! one would think it was summertime!

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