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Queensland wholesale power prices highest in country

People in regional Queensland are facing higher power bills as the state’s wholesale electricity price jumps to the highest in the country, an energy consumer group has warned.

But Energy Minister Mick de Brenni says there will be “downward pressure” on prices as more renewable generation is added to the grid.

The Queensland Energy Users Network has sounded the warning, drawing attention to Australian Energy Market Operator figures showing the average wholesale price for Queensland is $79.80 per megawatt hour for the first five months in 2021-22.

The next highest price is NSW at $63.65/Mwh, while it is lowest in Tasmania at $23.20/Mwh.

QEUN co-ordinator Jennifer Brownie said wholesale electricity prices comprised about 35 per cent of people’s bills and further wholesale increases were expected because of higher demand through more use of airconditioners during summer.

“Queensland has had the highest average wholesale electricity price traded in the National Electricity Market in four out of the last five months. If the wholesale price continues its upward spiral, this will be reflected in higher power bills next year,” Ms Brownie said.

She said businesses were already struggling to pay high power costs.

“One of the keys to a strong recovery from Covid is affordable power bills for homes and businesses. This is not looking good,” Ms Brownie said.

But Mr de Brenni said Queenslanders enjoyed the lowest retail prices in mainland Australia.

He said regional Queenslanders had also seen the biggest drop in power prices in 16 years thanks to renewables helping to drive down wholesale prices, with households saving $101 or 7.3 per cent and business $79 or 3.7 per cent.

“In the first five months of this financial year Queensland’s average wholesale price increased due to reduced generation availability across the National Electricity Market,” Mr de Brenni said.

“With the majority of units now back in service and around 3000MW of new renewable projects also expected to come online over the next three years, there will be further downward pressure on wholesale prices.”

Ms Brownie said wholesale prices had increased sharply when the coal-fired Callide C power station failed earlier this year but that record coal prices would explain some of the increased wholesale cost.

“I would say higher coal prices would have had some impact but not the 25 per cent increase over NSW prices.”

Source: The Daily Telegraph