Environmental IQ

Air conditioners, electricity rises link/


Sydney Morning Herald March 19, 2010

The increasing number of air conditioning units being installed in older suburbs is partly to blame for the big rise in electricity bills, NSW Energy Minister John Robertson says.

Bills will shoot up over the next three years, rising by a cumulative 60 per cent by 2013 for EnergyAustralia customers, increasing average household bills by $754.

NSW’s Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) also said on Thursday that Country Energy bills will rise 64 per cent, adding $918 to a typical household’s bill by 2013, while Integral Energy’s bills will rise 46 per cent, adding $577.

IPART blames a big chunk of the increases on the federal government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) and says the increases will be less if the controversial scheme is scrapped.

Extra money is also needed to pay for additional power infrastructure, such as building new substations and increasing capacity at others.
“These increases are required to build a network that’s reliable, that can meet the demands of a growing city and also meet the demand as we continue things like consolidation of housing in some of our older suburbs,” Mr Robertson told Fairfax Radio Network on Friday.

“These networks in some instances are 50 to 60 years old and we’ve got to make sure we can keep supply and reliable electricity to people.
“When we consolidate and put new housing into some of these older suburbs, everybody’s installing air conditioners in a system that was not traditionally designed to meet peak grades in summer and so we’ve got to continue to enhance and invest in our systems.

“I don’t think for one minute that anyone should think the government’s not conscious of the impact this is going to have on families.”

Mr Robertson admitted the rises will hurt families and that energy prices are higher in NSW than in Victoria.

He also confirmed there would be no challenge on behalf of the NSW government to IPART’s price ruling.

“We’re bound to accept the decision of IPART and that’s why we’ve been conscious of making sure we’re providing financial assistance for these households,” he added.

The NSW government has pledged to expand its energy rebate plan to over one million electricity customers and other measures to help struggling customers.

© 2010 AAP