Original article by Karen Collier in the Herald Sun (Australia)
HOUSEHOLDS are paying up to $550 a year for power before flicking on a switch.
Efforts to save money by using less electricity are being thwarted by new price surges of up to 74 per cent for fixed supply charges, a Victorian energy cost investigation reveals.
“Companies are cranking fixed charges to compensate for falling electricity demand to protect revenue and profit margins,” St Vincent de Paul Society energy expert Gavin Dufty said.
“They also need to pass on the cost of distribution, and government programs such as smart meters and green schemes.” [emphasis added – Ed.]
Electricity bills include a set daily service-to-property charge, which does not change no matter how much you use, and consumption rates that alter depending on use.
The St Vincent de Paul Society’s January review tracked basic “standing offer” supply prices for an average household.
But Mr Dufty said the general cost trends also applied to many customers on market contracts.
Simply Energy’s $552 default charge for the SP AusNet region, up 15 per cent compared with last year, was the overall biggest.
Among the steepest changes were Lumo Energy’s charge in the United Energy network, which surged 74 per cent to $429. Click Energy’s in the CitiPower area climbed 62 per cent to $456.
Origin’s rates rose 7 to 23 per cent depending on location, while AGL’s increased 3 to 19 per cent. EnergyAustralia’s increased 4 to 6 per cent.
Lumo marketing and sales general manager Tim Harrington said its standing offer rises were the first in 18 months and remained competitive.
The “vast majority” of customers were on cheaper market offers.
Click Energy chief Dominic Drenen said: “The increase brings us more into line with the major companies.
“However, Click offers discounts on total bills, unlike most retailers, so overall remains one of the most affordable providers”.
The Vinnies report notes supply charges vary significantly between retailers.
“Low consumption households should look for energy offers with a low fixed daily charge,” it advises.