Page 1720 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 June 2022
Across the border in New South Wales, the average household electricity costs are expected to be $800 a year higher than in the ACT. This positive outcome for Canberra households and businesses is the reflection of the long-term policy decisions that the ACT government has been pursuing since 2012—policies that were bitterly opposed by those opposite at that time.
DR PATERSON: Chief Minister, why isn’t the ACT seeing the significant price increases announced in other states and territories?
MR BARR: Our transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity has largely driven the decrease in electricity prices here, in contrast to the other states and territories. ACT scheme costs have decreased because of a fall in the large-scale feed-in tariff costs, which account for 86.26 per cent of the ACT government scheme costs for the coming fiscal year.
The ICRC has credited the ACT’s long-term renewable energy contracts as “more than offsetting the increase in wholesale electricity costs”. As we have been progressively entering into long-term renewable supply contracts over the past decade, the ACT has effectively hedged against future price increases. This shields ACT businesses and households against upward pressures that have caused the significant spike in electricity prices elsewhere in the NEM.
The ACT government’s actions in this area have achieved a dual objective—100 per cent renewable electricity, achieved five years ahead of the target I set in 2015, in 2020, as we work towards our target of zero net emissions by 2045, whilst at the same time ensuring price stability for ACT residents and businesses, and shielding us against the sort of impacts that we are seeing in other states and territories.
MR PETTERSSON: Chief Minister, what is the ACT government doing to assist those Canberrans who still struggle with the cost of their power bills?
MR BARR: I thank Mr Pettersson for the question. We do acknowledge that, even though prices are falling in nominal and real terms, there will be tens of thousands of Canberra households who will still need additional support. We have support through a utilities hardship fund, which supports vulnerable consumers to access essentially instant $100 vouchers through their eligible energy retailer. We provide a utilities concession of $750 annually to 31,000 eligible low income households towards their energy bills. We provided a one-off $250 increase, on top of that $750, in the current financial year, bringing the total concession to $1,000 in fiscal year 2021-22.
We have our Vulnerable Household Energy Support Scheme, which has committed $50 million over the next five years to support low income households to become more energy efficient. We have the Home Energy Support Program, which was launched in March, and which has committed $3.1 million over four years for solar rebates. Eligible households can receive a rebate of up to $2½ thousand and access to optional interest-free loans through our Sustainable Household Scheme. Through that scheme we are supporting households to make renewable energy upgrades, and offering zero interest loans for a range of products. As of 3 June, almost 3,700