What a month it’s been for energy in Australia! Since our last issue, we’ve seen some seismic shifts in the landscape :
- Origin announced the early closure of Eraring, Australia’s largest coal-fired power plant, representing 2.8% of total Australian carbon emissions;
- An audacious bid to acquire AGL was announced by Canadian asset manger Brookfield and Mike Cannon-Brookes’s Grok Ventures, with a plan to dramatically accelerate closure of its coal-fired generation assets, which are responsible for another 8% of Australia’s total carbon emissions. The AGL board has rejected the bid for now, and at this time of writing it remains to be seen if the ‘Brooks Brothers’ may further increase the offer, or other players might now enter the fray;
- Also, the Victorian government has committed to a target of 9GW of offshore wind generation by 2040, a dramatic increase on the existing target of 2 GW by 2032 already set by the Victorian Wind Policy Directions Paper.
It’s been a big month for Bill Hero too. Last month, we announced the launch of the Green Electricity Guide by Greenpeace and Total Environment Centre. This month, we announce that Bill Hero has already included the Green ratings from this Guide into the Bill Hero comparison experience.
As a Bill Hero subscriber, you can now not only find and stay on the best priced energy plans, you can find and stay on the best priced plans that also meet your requirements as a Green energy consumer.
Let’s get into it …
Now it's easy being Green
Many Bill Hero subscribers have asked us for help with choosing plans and retailers that not only are well priced, but also meet other important criteria, such as quality of service, green credentials, or Australian ownership.
We’ve always recognised that price is not the only factor in energy purchase decisions, and we’ve been steadily working toward identifying the most critical non-price decision criteria, and introducing them into the Bill Hero comparison model. Our approach will always be to include these additional non-price criteria where there is a reliable external source of credible analysis and data to support it.
We were very happy to see the recently updated Green Electricity Guide finally bring a robust and up-to-date approach to identifying and measuring Green credentials of energy retailers in Australia. We immediately got to work to incorporate the new Green Ratings into the Bill Hero experience.
Green Ratings are already live in the Bill Hero experience. Here’s how it works:
Retail energy news
Some big news this month on planned and proposed coal power station closures has put new focus on onto the transition to renewables in Australia.
Origin Energy has formally lodged the required 3.5 years notice of intention to close its Eraring power station, the biggest coal-fired power station in Australia, which is single-handedly responsible for 2.8% of all Australian carbon emissions. Origin CEO Frank Calabria said:
The reality is the economics of coal-fired power stations are being put under increasing, unsustainable pressure by cleaner and lower cost generation, including solar, wind and batteries.
Hot on the heels of this Origin announcement, came the ‘Brooks Brothers’ takeover bid for AGL, Australia’s biggest coal generator, and biggest carbon emitter, with 3.9 m customers. The takeover plan included rapidly accelerated shutdown of the AGL coal power stations.
The takeover bid was unsolicited, and non-binding, and the AGL board has rejected it, arguing that it does not represent good enough value to AGL shareholders.
Unlike Origin and the ‘Brooks Brothers’ consortium, AGL’s board plans for coal to be with us for the long haul. Its Victorian Loy Yang power station is scheduled to remain in service until at least 2040, although by then, under its current strategy, AGL will have split itself into a retail business called AGL and a generation business called Accel.
These movements in the energy market are strong reminders of the pace and scale of the energy transition now clearly underway.
Cannon-Brookes and Brookfield withdrew their bid after AGL Board rejected an increased offer.
Wind will become a big deal for Victorian energy, with the state government committing to a massive increase in offshore wind generation capacity.
The Essential Services Commission in Victoria has set new minimum solar feed-in tariffs from 1 July 2022. Flat FiT rate will be down to 5.2c per kWh, and Time of use FiT will vary between 5c and 7.5c per kWh. Declining solar FiT makes it more important for solar households to self-consume their generation and offset the need to import higher priced power from the grid.
Also making news is an optimistic – but realistic and feasible – action plan for Australia to fight climate change while creating new jobs and a healthier environment: Electrify everything.
Welcome to Autumn!
As the weather starts to cool, households in the Australian southern states begin to move toward their higher electricity and gas consumption times. Queenslanders will start to use more gas, but will start to move away from their peak electricity consumption season.
Before the winter cold begins to bite, there are some simple things you can do to help ensure your energy consumption, and your bills, stay under control as winter approaches.
Down with drafts!
Now’s the time to check your doors and windows for drafts, and if necessary, use weather strips to seal them.
Check your heater
If you use gas heating, now is the time to give it some attention.
Check your heating system and get it serviced before you really need to use it during winter. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a real danger, particularly for older gas appliances. You should get your heaters checked at least every 2 years, and it makes sense to install carbon monoxide alarms just as you use smoke alarms. If you haven’t already done this, now is the time.
Thinking about replacing your hot water system? Or your heating system, or your stove top?
Many Australian households rely on gas for these uses, and it’s now abundantly clear that the best way forward, both from a cost minimisation and an environmental perspective, is to progressively replace these gas appliances with efficient electric alternatives. The electric options now available use less energy outright, plus the price for gas is climbing, while the cost of electricity is coming down, way down for those who can generate their own rooftop solar energy.
These kinds of purchases tend to sneak up on you—when you need to buy an appliance like this, it’s usually because your old one has failed, and you need to replace it as quickly as possible. So even if there’s plenty of life left in your gas appliances, it makes sense to be aware of the alternatives, and even start doing some research, so you’ll be more ready and better able to make a good decision when it becomes necessary.
- Heat pump hot water systems will save you hundreds of dollars per year.
- Reverse-cycle electric heating systems can deliver equivalent useful heat with 60% less cost than gas alternatives, plus they can also cool you down in summer.
- Induction stove tops are safer, faster, more efficient, and much easier to clean than gas.It will take time and planning for most households to upgrade these kinds of appliances, but preparing for these changes will position you to make the most of the solar power you can generate on your own roof, eliminate the gas expense entirely from your energy bills – including the daily connection charges that will apply no matter how much or how little gas you consume, and contribute toward reducing carbon emissions.
Review of the month
Read all our reviews here
Another month brings more great reviews from happy Bill Hero subscribers. Here’s one of our recent favourites, and you can see them all at https://billhero.com.au/reviews
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