Coal states record highest electricity prices

Close up of coal mound with industrial machinery in background (highest prices)
Image: Shutterstock

The recently released Wholesale Markets Quarterly report from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) shows the most coal dependent states in Australia’s National Electricity Market recorded the highest wholesale power prices over the past quarter.

According to Solar Citizens, Queensland had the highest prices at $90/MWh, followed by New South Wales at $88/MWh, Victoria at $64/MWh, South Australia at $63/MWh, and Tasmania at $27/MWh. Queensland has the lowest share of renewable electricity at around 20 per cent whereas Tasmania is 100 per cent renewable.

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“This last quarter Queensland and New South Wales had high electricity prices due to high coal prices and outages at ageing coal-fired power stations,” Solar Citizens energy strategist Stephanie Gray said.

“States with more renewable energy generation have cheaper prices in part because solar and wind plants don’t need to pay fuel costs. 

“This report also shows that Australia’s 3 million solar homes and businesses are doing their part to drive down electricity prices, with a record number of negative pricing events occurring in the middle of the day.”

Wholesale electricity prices can go negative when there’s low electricity demand and abundant solar energy available. In the third quarter of 2021 prices were negative 25 per cent of the time in South Australian and 20 per cent of the time in Victoria.

The AER report also shows a staggering 1,200MW of new wind, battery and solar capacity entered the market in July, August and September.

“Australia’s coal-fired power stations are getting older and we’re seeing regular unplanned outages, which drives up the cost of electricity for consumers,” Gray said.

“The good news is that coal dependent States like New South Wales and Victoria have visions to build out Renewable Energy Zones so that by 2030 the lion’s share of their electricity will come from clean and cheap renewables.

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“Now we need the Queensland government to follow suit and plan for an ambitious renewable rollout so that consumers living in the Sunshine State aren’t paying top dollar for electricity.”

Solar Citizens is calling on the Queensland government to ensure at least 2,000MW of new renewable energy generation is added to each of Queensland’s three Renewable Energy Zone regions by 2025.