| 10.08,09. 12:11 AM |
NSW pays more for power
NSW residents are being hit with the biggest electricity bills in the nation following new price hikes.
Regional customers are worst off, but Sydneysiders pay hundreds of dollars more than in Melbourne and Brisbane.
New bills arriving in letterboxes reflect regulators' recent approval of a 20 per cent increase in electricity charges.
According to independent utility website Switchwise, an average Sydney three or four bedroom house will pay $2120 a year for 10,000 kilowatt hours (kwh).
In Melbourne, a similar home pays $1861 and in Brisbane, the annual cost of power is about $1971.\
The higher the usage, the greater the differential. Sydneysiders using 15,000kwh a year pay almost $600 more than in Melbourne and $470 more than in Brisbane.
Customers outside Sydney are slugged even more. Tamworth residents pay up to $300 a year more than Sydney.
Switchwise founder Shaun Johnson said Country Energy was the most expensive because of government policy allowing retailers to recoup the high costs of servicing remote customers.
Unlike NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania enforce policies where rates are the same, no matter where you live.
Mr Johnson said electricity supply in NSW was a "dead market'', with retailers not competing for consumers as in other states. Victoria's regulatorypricing was scrapped earlythis year, when it joined South Australia and Queensland as fully deregulated.
Mr Johnson said 14 retailers in Victoria competed for customers, but NSW pricing policies made it unprofitable for other companies to come into the market.
"It has been unprofitable for the energy suppliers to supply NSW,'' he said. ``Victorian companies are licensed in NSW, but they don't want them because they are going to lose money on every customer.
"You end up in this situation where there are many companies in Victoria aggressively competing for customers, but it's not profitable for them in NSW.''
Mr Johnson said that in recent years, the drought had put pressure on supply through the impact on hydro-power, pushing prices up and making it even less profitable for retailers.
Two-bedroom Sydney homes, using an average 6500kw a year, will set residents back $1272 - slightly more than in Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth.
Regional NSW is far worse off, paying $1697 for the same service. That is $441 more than Melbourne, $385 more than Brisbane and $547 more than Canberra.
Mr Johnson said Energy Australia was the cheapest NSW retailer, followed closely by Integral Energy, and said that many Sydney residents didn't realise they had the choice of electricity retailers.
"If you are in an Energy Australia area, they are your distributor, but they are also your retailer,'' he said. "You could have AGL or Origin, but there is a bit of confusion around that.
"If you change your retailer for a cheaper deal, you are not changing the person that sends you the electricity - you are changing who sends you the bill.''
He said retailer TRUenergy was offering a 6 per cent discount off the regulated price, which could save consumers $130 a year.