Australian retail electricity prices

Published in Energy Policy. Underpins Section 2.3 and analysis of emissions reductions from stationary energy (including Section 3.5) in the Australian National Outlook 2015 report.

Australian retail electricity prices: Can we avoid repeating the rising trend of the past?

Journal paper, published in Energy Policy

After a stable or declining real trend that persisted for more than half a century, Australian retail electricity prices have experienced a substantial increase, in real terms, since 2007. This has mainly been driven by increases in the cost of electricity distribution and to a lesser degree in the cost of electricity generation.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which is a bipartisan political goal in Australia, will likely deliver further increases in generation costs due to the expected higher cost of low emission technology. Participating in global negotiations on emission reduction targets and designing efficient policy mechanisms have been a major focus of governments over the last several decades. In contrast, managing distribution system costs has received less attention.

While there were a number of factors which drove historical increases in distribution costs, management of peak demand growth could help contain or reduce the extent to which consumers, particularly households, experience further increases in distribution costs.

The paper demonstrates how different combinations of carbon price and peak demand scenarios could impact future residential and industrial retail electricity prices to 2050 and discusses some behavioural and technological solutions to manage peak demand and potential barriers to their deployment.


Paul W Graham, Thomas Brinsmead and Steve Hatfield-Dodds

Access the publication in the CSIRO Research Publications Repository


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