150% hike in power costs over the past 10 years

QUEENSLAND power prices have increased more during the past decade than every other Australian state.

That's according to a report released this week by Carbon Energy Markets, which found the price had increased 150% in the past 10 years.

Considering the contribution this region in particular makes to mining coal, the raw ingredient in power production, the hike appears to defy logic.

Earlier this year the Queensland Productivity Commission said 82% of the price increase could be attributed to costs associated with maintaining transmission infrastructure.

The Resource Industry Network's Mick Crowe explained as Queensland was a large state with few power stations, transmission infrastructure absorbed a much greater proportion of the cost compared to other countries and states.

"Our power prices do benefit from our skills as miners, but it's not the major cost," he said.

It should be noted the report was commissioned by One Big Switch, a for-profit organisation that campaigns for lower electricity prices.

One Big Switch director Joel Gibson said although it showed Queensland paid on average less than New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria for electricity before tax, he preferred the regulatory models in the latter three states.

He said their electricity markets were deregulated, creating competition between providers.

That meant some providers were more expensive but, with more than 20 service providers in states like Victoria, consumers could shop around and get a better deal.

He also pointed out the 150% rise in Queensland had occurred at the hands of the State Government, despite its claims it would fight to keep costs down.

In Mackay, consumers have only one option in Energy Queensland, the result of a July 1 merger between Energex and Ergon.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert is confident the merger will soon lead to savings for consumers, as overhead costs are absorbed.

She also believes no private power supplier could turn a profit servicing regional parts of the state, so to protect the interests of all Queenslanders, power supply should remain in government hands.

State Energy Minister Mark Bailey pointed out the government subsidised regional Queensland power prices by more than $500m a year, to ensure prices were on par with those in the south-east corner.

He said he very much doubted a private company would grant the same concession to regional clients.

The majority of the price increase, Mr Bailey said, occurred under the former state government when prices rose more than 43% in three years.

He said under the current government, hikes had been contained to 1.2% in their first two years.

The CEM report also claimed Australians were paying more for electricity than almost every other OECD nation (see right).

Power prices

 Luxembourg, Austria, Greece, United States, Israel, France, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark and Norway all have cheaper standing power, before tax, than Queensland.

 Only Ireland and the UK are more expensive.

Source: Carbon Energy Markets report, commissioned by One Big Switch.

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