Bigger Power Bills In South Australia (Again)?

SA Power Networks (formerly ETSA) is seeking to increase residential power bills – and this time it’s trees copping the blame.

SA Power Networks has lodged a cost pass through application with the Australian Energy Regulator with regard to forecast vegetation clearance costs in the period from 2012–13 to 2014–15. SA Power Networks has proposed a positive pass through amount of $40.7 million.

In its hefty 118-page application (PDF), the distributors says the cost increase “has been caused solely by an uncontrollable, unexpected and material increase in the frequency and extent of vegetation inspection and clearance required to be undertaken by SA Power Networks in order to continue to meet its vegetation clearance obligation under the Act and the Regulations”.

It says the unexpected increase in vegetation growth rates followed the breaking of the ‘Millennium drought’, which was then sustained by above average rainfall.

According to Adelaide Now, the $40.7 million will add a further  $15-a-year increase to the average residential power bill over the next two years.

However, Consumers SA said any costing miscalculations that had been made by the network should be carried by the network rather than households.

The Australian Energy Regulator will make a decision in May on SA Power Network’s application.

The increase may not seem like a huge amount, but it could be the proverbial straw that motivates more South Australian households to make the switch to solar power systems; particularly given the state’s unpleasant distinction of having among the highest electricity prices in the world.

According to national solar provider Energy Matters, a good quality 2kW solar power system installed in Adelaide can achieve electricity bill savings of between an estimated $751-$855 annually.

Under the state’s feed in tariff program, system owners receive 25.8c per kilowatt hour minimum for surplus electricity generated by their rooftop solar panels that is exported to the mains power grid.