Have privatised networks increased electricity prices?

Privatisation of electricity networks up for debate 171 6003084 0 14102235 300

The privatisation of electricity networks has been subject to plenty of political debate recently, with one group claiming that many consumers are less than happy about the decision. Stop the Sell Off questioned people in South Australia and Victoria to find that some now believe they are paying higher electricity prices as a result of the privatisation.

ReachTEL carried out the research to discover that 73 per cent of Victorians and 70.9 per cent of South Australians agree with this claim. Just 13.4 per cent and 9.7 per cent, respectively, were opposed to the buyback of the networks.

"The experience of consumers confirms the findings of the Federal government's energy regulator, which late last year revealed South Australia now has the highest power prices in the country," said Adam Kerslake, Stop the Sell Off campaign director.

Privatisation is currently being discussed in New South Wales, with the state's Treasury commissioning a report from Ernst & Young (EY) to determine the right course of action.

Figures showed that the average electricity bill paid by NSW homeowners stood at $1,925 a year in 2012-13, which compared to just $745 back in 1996-98. In South Australia, however, this increase has shifted from $821 to $1,481.

Both NSW and Queensland were found to have seen network prices increase as a proportion of the total energy bill, while Victoria and South Australia witnessed a decrease.

South Australia opted to privatise its electricity network businesses in 1990-2000, following from Victoria's lead, which took the decision back in 1995-96. The EY report found that electricity prices are undoubtedly rising for everyday consumers, which is why efforts are being made to search for alternative forms of energy production.

Whether privatising networks is the answer is yet to be seen, and there will no doubt be plenty more debate before any further decisions are made.

Posted by Nikki Wilson-Everett