Households on the eastern seaboard will be hit with electricity bill increases of up to 25 per cent from July 1, adding to the mounting cost-of-living pressures facing Australian consumers.
The Australian Energy Regulator on Thursday locked in this year’s increases to default offers – price caps on what retailers can charge customers who don’t take up special deals – raising the limits by up to $349 in Queensland, up to $439 in South Australia, and up to $435 in NSW.
It means households will face standard electricity price rises of between 20.8 per cent and 23.9 per cent from July 1, depending on the region. Small business customers face bill hikes of 14.7 per cent to 28.9 per cent, depending on the region.
In Victoria, where the state’s Essential Services Commission sets its own default offer, prices will rise by 25 per cent, or $352 a year.
This year’s default offer changes reflect significant spikes in wholesale prices – what retailers pay for power before they sell it onto their customers – caused by a spate of coal-fired power station failures last year curtailing supply, and the war in Ukraine driving up the cost of coal and gas that’s needed to generate electricity.
Default market offer increases will directly affect hundreds of thousands of households, but will also act as a reference point for retailers, such as AGL, Origin and EnergyAustralia, as they assess their next pricing hikes across their wider customer bases.
Australian Energy Regulator chair Clare Savage said households and small businesses that were struggling with bills should contact their electricity retailer as soon as possible because the companies are compelled by the law to offer assistance.
“No one wants to see rising prices, and we recognise this is a difficult time,” Savage said. “That’s why it’s important for consumers to shop around for a better deal.”