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Analysis and Comment (34)

Cooling towers at Yallourn, one of Victoria’s major brown coal power generators. Cooling towers at Yallourn, one of Victoria’s major brown coal power generators. Flickr/ccdoh1

Is $15 a year really too much to pay for renewable energy?

Australia’s Renewable Energy Target looks likely to be weakened or even axed, with the Prime Minister saying the scheme needs to be reviewed because it is causing “pretty significant price pressure”. But…
From Australia to the world. Rising LNG exports threaten domestic industry and climate action. From Australia to the world. Rising LNG exports threaten domestic industry and climate action. Flickr/kenhodge13

Australia needs gas reservation to protect industries and climate

What is the future of Australia’s gas reserves? While it might be good news for the gas industry, increasing international demand could see gas prices in Australia rise, driving up the cost of electricity…
Workers assemble air conditioners at a factory in China earlier this year. Workers assemble air conditioners at a factory in China earlier this year. EPA/SHEPHERD ZHOU CHINA OUT

Australia’s rising air con use makes us hot and bothered

With temperatures starting to climb, it’s time to think about how we will stay cool this summer. The stakes are getting higher when it comes to hot weather. As the Australian Medical Association has warned…
Restructuring the market is harder than it looks. Restructuring the market is harder than it looks. David Cheskin/PA

Ofgem faces select committee, but market reform still lags

With high energy prices all anyone can talk about this winter, Ofgem’s interim chief Andrew Wright appeared before MPs today to defend the regulator’s performance. Predictably, he was met with some hostile…
Would you buy a used energy market from these people? Would you buy a used energy market from these people? PA

Three visions for reforming the electricity market

The impending third reading of the Energy Bill in the UK’s House of Lords marks the final stage of a long and intensive review process for legislation designed to overhaul the UK’s energy market. The question…
Community activists in Boulder, Colorado rally outside Xcel Energy’s Valmont coal plant. Community activists in Boulder, Colorado rally outside Xcel Energy’s Valmont coal plant. Flickr: 350.org

What Australia could learn from a US energy uprising

Around the world, people concerned about global warming and wary of higher energy costs are turning away from big power distributors in favour of local and “distributed” energy technologies and services…
How much will getting rid of the carbon price save households? How much will getting rid of the carbon price save households? AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Axing the carbon tax: saving households, costing climate

With the government introducing legislation to repeal the carbon price today, people might be wondering how much they will benefit from reduced cost of living. The government has continued to claim that…
Who’ll switch on to time-of-use tariffs now we have the choice? Who’ll switch on to time-of-use tariffs now we have the choice? 55Laney69/Flickr

Choosing the power price you pay: voluntary time-of-use tariffs

In Victoria, households now have the option to take up time of use tariffs - if they do, they’ll pay more for electricity during peak times, and less off-peak. Taking up the tariffs will be voluntary and…
Emergency management would be severely stretched under future conditions: we need a serious conversation now. Emergency management would be severely stretched under future conditions: we need a serious conversation now. Alexander Kesselaar

The conversation we need to have about carbon

Recent conversations about carbon pricing are still framed within gentle themes of continuing growth and well-being, where no one has to pay more for anything without being compensated. The words that…
Australia’s energy regulations need a clean up. Australia’s energy regulations need a clean up. Flickr/Looking Glass

Energy reform key to productivity, paves way for carbon action

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ducked the question of changes to carbon pricing in his National Press Club address yesterday. But he put energy market reform at the top of his “New National Competitiveness…
How selfish! Are solar panels really pushing up the price of power for everyone? How selfish! Are solar panels really pushing up the price of power for everyone? Elliot Brown

More solar, less power demand, higher prices: does it add up?

If I install solar panels and a car battery to run my air conditioner, should I pay higher electricity network fees? The electricity industry and Queensland’s Energy Minister would say yes, but is that…
We know we have to cut back on electricity use on really hot days, but how do we do it without disadvantaging low-income households? We know we have to cut back on electricity use on really hot days, but how do we do it without disadvantaging low-income households? Karl-Ludwig G. Poggemann

Beating the peak without punishing the poor

Australia’s electricity prices are rising and not everyone is finding it easy to keep up. Fingers have been pointed at peak demand; the times, like very hot summer afternoons, when we use large amounts…
The Australian Energy Market Operator’s latest report lays out what it will cost to switch on to renewable power. The Australian Energy Market Operator’s latest report lays out what it will cost to switch on to renewable power.

Zero emissions power is possible, and we know what it will cost

To avoid 2 degrees of climate change, global carbon emissions will need to be reduced by at least 50% by 2050. For developed countries such as Australia with higher carbon emissions this will mean cuts…
Putting panels on your roof reduces your power bill, but it also reduces the risk of price rises for everyone on the network. Putting panels on your roof reduces your power bill, but it also reduces the risk of price rises for everyone on the network. murphyz/Flickr

Rooftop solar reduces the risk of price hikes … for everyone

How much would you pay to avoid another $250 a year hike in your electricity bill? Does $15 a year sound like too much to reduce that risk? We’ve heard a lot lately about rising electricity prices. That’s…
Governments need to step in and make sure consumers are considered in electricity pricing. Governments need to step in and make sure consumers are considered in electricity pricing. earl what i saw 2.0/Flickr

Why Australians are getting a raw deal on electricity prices

If there’s logic behind the way Australian energy markets work, at first glance it’s hard to fathom. Increases in power bills have previously been justified by our increasing demand. But as energy demand…
Wind power now contributes 3.8% to the electricity market. Wind power now contributes 3.8% to the electricity market. Flickr/Bush Philosopher - Dave Clarke

Electricity prices fall: renewable energy deserves merit

Let’s be honest: the relationship between renewable energy and the electricity market is complex. So what does the latest report from Australian energy research firm RepuTex tell us? Well, for a start…
Blackouts remind us what life was like before cheap, readily available electricity - but it’s time to think about the true price of our power. Blackouts remind us what life was like before cheap, readily available electricity - but it’s time to think about the true price of our power. Candle in the dark image from www.shutterstock.com/Ronen

Save now, pay later: the hidden costs of lower electricity bills

No lights, no power, no internet - and no easy solutions. Fumbling around in a middle of a blackout, hoping to find a torch or some spare batteries, I was struck by just how utterly dependent most of us…
When comparing power sources, we have to take the costs of system effects into account. When comparing power sources, we have to take the costs of system effects into account. Flick/a_whisper_of_unremitting_demand

Counting the hidden costs of energy

A recent Bloomberg press release got wide coverage with its claim that wind power is now cheaper than coal. But a new report from the OECD shows that when you cover the full cost to the grid, variable…
Giving electricity providers something to aim for could reduce prices. Giving electricity providers something to aim for could reduce prices. Ville Miettinen

Reducing peak demand: targets are good practice

Better managing peak demand, the primary culprit behind recent rapid price rises across Australia, is a key challenge facing Eastern Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM). To deal with peak demand…
In the short term, reducing demand could be bad for the environment, but the long-term view is brighter. In the short term, reducing demand could be bad for the environment, but the long-term view is brighter. Gustavo Durán

Reducing peak demand: lowering prices, but what about emissions?

The past year has seen several processes to reduce the price of electricity to consumers. Each has highlighted the importance of “demand management” - consumers reducing use at peak times to reduce the…
For low-income households, energy saving usually means switching off. Will COAG’s reforms give them more options? For low-income households, energy saving usually means switching off. Will COAG’s reforms give them more options? James Mooney

COAG’s energy market reforms must protect the poor

There is only so much that individuals can do. As energy prices keep climbing, in many households you will find a parent patrolling to check lights and appliances are turned off. Some poorer households…
Electricity prices have been rising rapidly during the past decade. Electricity prices have been rising rapidly during the past decade. Sir Bennikins/Flickr

The PM’s electricity plan: it’s a Band-Aid not a cure

A few days ago, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard foreshadowed a “plan to make sure that families pay $250 less per year for electricity” to be discussed at this Friday’s meeting of the Council of Australian…
A smart meter alone isn’t enough. Customers also need in home displays or web portals. A smart meter alone isn’t enough. Customers also need in home displays or web portals. Tom Raferty

Will smart meters benefit consumers?

Smart meters are in the news again with much discussion about what Prime Minister Julia Gillard is expected to propose to the COAG meeting on Friday. Smart meters can perform various functions, from remote…
Prime minister Julia Gillard takes an electricity pricing reform package to COAG this week - but could the answer be in addressing congestion pricing for the network? Prime minister Julia Gillard takes an electricity pricing reform package to COAG this week - but could the answer be in addressing congestion pricing for the network? AAP

Congestion power pricing might provide an answer to network gold plating

Electricity network pricing has been a hot topic in the last six months. The key issues have been regulation and demand side management. On regulation, Prime Minister Julia Gillard is taking a package…
Things go wrong when prices are out of whack. Things go wrong when prices are out of whack. Kevin Baird

Set reasonable PV feed-in tariffs, or expect perverse outcomes

Contrary to expectations, demand for electricity in Australia has been falling for several years. Reasons for this include large price rises (of which the carbon price is a relatively small component…
History suggests privatisation of the electricity industry is not such a bright idea. History suggests privatisation of the electricity industry is not such a bright idea. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Why we should pull the plug on privatising electricity

Surging power prices are having savage consequences for household discretionary incomes. Some would blame the government’s carbon tax, but the real culprit is price gouging. Judging from the pronouncements…
The power we need twice a year is making us pay year-round. The power we need twice a year is making us pay year-round. Andrew J Cosgriff

Explainer: What is peak power and how does it affect prices?

This is the year of electricity prices. Everyone, from the Prime Minister to your favourite barista, is talking about the recent rapid escalation in electricity prices. These increases are a complex story…
The National Electricity Market is in chronic failure mode. The National Electricity Market is in chronic failure mode. Sveter Sveter

Who will hold the balance of power on electricity?

The Senate Select Committee on Electricity Pricing tabled its report in Parliament on November 1. The inquiry found substantial evidence of failures in the rules and operation of the electricity market…
Unnecessarily over-funded electricity networks leave WA consumers to foot the bill. Unnecessarily over-funded electricity networks leave WA consumers to foot the bill. visualdensity

The sorry state of WA’s electricity market reform

It should have led to lower electricity prices; that was the theory at least. But the 2006 disaggregation of Western Australia’s vertically-integrated electricity utility, Western Power Corporation, into…
The energy sector has been making its own rules for too long. The energy sector has been making its own rules for too long. John Koetsier

An electrifying inquiry could bring power sector to account

The Senate Select Committee on Electricity Prices inquiry may finally bring the electricity sector to account. After five public hearings around Australia, a clear story is emerging. The key contributors…
Australian household energy use increased by more than 30% in the past two decades. Australian household energy use increased by more than 30% in the past two decades. ctandjung/Flickr

Electricity and the power of choice - for whom?

Electricity prices are a hot topic. Prices have skyrocketed in recent years and politicians have finally realised that people are struggling to pay energy bills. Power of Choice, an Australian Energy Market…
The government should have been addressing electricity arrangements for the last four years. The government should have been addressing electricity arrangements for the last four years. Laurent LaSalle

High time the PM talked power prices, but don’t expect change

The Prime Minister gave a speech on August 7 entitled Electricity prices: the facts. She explained, correctly, that the costs of transmission and distribution (network costs, otherwise referred to as “poles…
Economic modelling shows Australia’s GDP will be modestly affected by the carbon tax in the long term: but the equitable redistribution of tax revenue will be critical. Economic modelling shows Australia’s GDP will be modestly affected by the carbon tax in the long term: but the equitable redistribution of tax revenue will be critical. AAP

The carbon tax: insurance against climate change?

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is like buying an insurance policy: we incur a cost to reduce a risk. Every year Australians spend millions on insuring homes, cars and their health, not because they know…

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