Hunter power costs among world's highest: global survey

HUNTER households are paying the fourth-highest electricity prices in a global survey of more than 90 countries, states and provinces in Australasia, Europe and North America.

The ACT, by comparison, enjoys the cheapest electricity in Australia despite the fact that most of it is generated in NSW.

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The ACT Labor government boasted recently of having the cheapest electricity prices in Australia and passed an Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Bill to subsidise the cost of electricity in the nation’s capital.

But even if an average ACT bill of $1400 is $1000 cheaper than its NSW counterpart, the ACT is still the 21st most expensive of the 91 jurisdictions surveyed for the Energy Users Association of Australia.

The report says Australian power prices are generally considered low by international standards but big increases in recent years, combined with the rising currency, put the nation at the top of the power-price graph.

‘‘Average electricity prices to households in Australia are now higher than those in Japan, the European Union, the United States and Canada [and] the gap may widen ...’’ the report says.

The association’s executive director Roman Domanski said the survey was based on the same raw energy data the federal government used for its reports.

‘‘Australia has massive reserves of coal and gas and renewable energy and you have to ask why a country with such resources has close to the highest power costs in the world,’’ Mr Domanski said.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has approved a price increase of 16per cent from July 1, following increases totalling 27per cent over the past two years.

The spiralling cost of power is leading increasing numbers of consumers to band together through power ‘‘switching’’ websites.

While some power companies are offering substantial discounts to those who ask, the complexity of the differing offers can make it hard for consumers to find the best value.

IPART has set up its own power pricing calculator, which allows households to compare dozens of offers from power companies by providing their postcodes and broad details of their power consumption.

It says rising network costs and the impending carbon tax are the main reasons behind its decision to grant the 16per cent increase.

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