Network costs form the biggest part of your electricity bill. Australia is a big country, and moving electricity around it is expensive. As the graph above shows, network costs have contributed 40 per cent of the total price increase over the past decade.
The reason we now pay so much for the network is simply that we have built an awful lot more stuff over the past decade. It’s also because it was agreed — through the industry regulator — that network businesses could build more network infrastructure and that we all have to pay for it, regardless of whether it is really needed.
Much of the debate about our future power generation has become mired in political point scoring and simplistic arguments designed to inflame and outrage, writes Ian Verrender.
Network businesses are heavily regulated. Their costs, charges and profits all have to be ticked off. This is supposed to keep costs down and prevent consumers being charged too much.
That’s the theory. But the fact is costs have spiralled. Between 2005 and 2016 the total value of the National Electricity Market (NEM) distribution network increased from $42 billion to $72 billion — a whopping 70 per cent. During that time there has been little change in the number of customers using the network or the amount of electricity they used. The result: every unit of electricity we consume costs much more than it used to.