State Imports Energy As Prices Skyrocket.

Power shocker

The now defunct power station at Hazelwood. Picture: JASONEDWARDS

POWER companies in Victoria are being forced to pay five times as much for electricity as they did three years ago and are now reliant on other states to keep the lights on.

The Herald Sun can reveal Victoria flipped to taking more electricity from the rest of the country than it was exporting for the first time in 2018-19. It is also now a net importer along with South Australia — a state that has had some of the highest wholesale energy prices in the world in recent years.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said he feared Victoria would face more blackouts this summer.

POWER companies in Victoria are paying five times as much for electricity than they were three years ago as they are forced to rely on other states to keep the lights on. In the wake of the Hazelwood power station’s closure, Victoria is now taking more electricity from the rest of the country than it is exporting for the first time in the history of the national electricity market.

Victoria is also a net importer along with South Australia — a state that has had some of the highest wholesale energy prices in the world in recent years.

The average wholesale price in Victoria, which makes up about a third of a power bill, has ballooned from $46.95 per megawatt hour in January 2016 to $250.33 in January this year.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said he feared Victoria would again face blackouts this summer. “We have already seen outages last summer and the situation in Victoria threatens to again leave Victorians in the dark,” Mr Taylor said.

Victoria became a net importer of electricity for the first time in 2018-19, according to figures from the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Over the past four years, the state’s net exports have fallen by the equivalent of about 50,000 homes.

The news comes as two Victorian power stations — Loy Yang A in the Latrobe Valley and the Mortlake gas-fired power station in the west — both have generators down.

Industry insiders have been concerned about Victoria’s ageing coal-fired power stations breaking down, amid fears the Yallourn plant could shut years earlier than expected as a result of Victoria’s renewable energy target. Mr Taylor said the new data showed the “dire state” of Victoria’s energy market “thanks to the reckless policies” of the Andrews Government, including its target to increase the state’s renewables generation to 50 per cent by 2030.

“Victoria has gone from being a net contributor to the National Electricity Market to sucking reliable energy from their neighbours,” he said.

“We are very concerned with the state of the Victorian energy market and the lack of meaningful action by the Victorian government.”

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said it was no secret the Australian energy system needed new supplies of electricity to compensate for the closure of coal-fired power stations.

“We need to drive investment in renewables and bring new transmission infrastructure, storage and demand management online quickly, but the federal government’s policy chaos is simply causing too much uncertainty and undermining investor confidence in the energy sector,” she said.

“It’s clear that when left to their own devices the industry is not delivering this investment; we need national leadership to make that happen — from our energy institutions and from the federal government.”

Grattan Institute energy program leader Tony Wood said the two main reasons for the higher wholesale prices were the closure of Hazelwood and the cost of gas.

Mr Wood said there were benefits to importing energy from other states in times of need and he believed Victoria would once again become a net exporter when new renewable energy projects came on line.


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