Queensland household and businesses electricity bills are set surge again unless the state government intervenes in the market to cut wholesale prices, the opposition says.
Household and business electricity bills will surge at least nine per cent across Queensland, with firms in the southeast set to cop a 19.8 per cent rise in 2022/23.
Retail bills will leap after wholesale electricity prices quadrupled to $171 per megawatt hour in the year to March, on the back of increased demand and generators setting higher prices amid soaring coal and gas costs.
The Queensland government will give households a one-off rebate of $175, but electricity prices are unlikely to fall until 2024, according to the Australian Energy Regulator.
Liberal National Party energy spokesman Pat Weir says the government could intervene in the market to direct state-owned coal-fired generators to lower wholesale prices, as it did back in 2017.
He says the $175 rebate won’t be enough to shield many households, and there’s no relief for small and medium-sized businesses.
“The best thing the government can do at this present time is drive down the electricity prices,” Mr Weir told reporters.
Analysts have told AAP the AER will likely have to allow Queensland retailers to lift household and business bills again before the end of 2022/23.
Mr Weir said the AER ruling may come as soon as next month, which could cause the closure of smaller energy retailers and leave consumers at the mercy of bigger players.
“So the consumer pays,” he said.
The wholesale market in Queensland is dominated by government-owned coal-fired power generators Stanwell Corporation and CS Energy.
There’s also a limit on how much cheaper electricity can be imported through the Queensland-NSW Interconnector.
A spokesperson for Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said $575 million in dividends have been paid to Queenslanders from its two generators since 2017.
However, Stanwell and C S Energy have reported $2.76 billion in profits and paid government dividends of $729.6 million over the last five years.
“Publicly owned generators bid to cover generation costs,” Mr de Brenni’s office told AAP in a statement.
“Any revenues above costs are given back to Queenslanders through Asset Ownership Dividends.”
Mr Weir said state-owned generators could be directed to lower wholesale prices because many have their own coal mines. They aren’t exposed to higher international prices unlike smaller private generators.
“I do not accept that they are completely at the hands of the spot market,” he said.
“They’re not running around the state buying coal willy nilly at mines around this state.”