The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has announced that electricity bills for hundreds of thousands of households in New South Wales, South Australia, and Southeast Queensland will rise by up to $600 (US$390) on July 1 due to the new default market offer. This sets a maximum rate energy retailers can charge residential and small business customers, and while only nine percent of customers are charged the default market rate, energy companies use it as a benchmark. Prices for residential customers with controlled load will rise between 20.8 and 23.9 percent, and for those without controlled load, prices will increase from 19.6 to 24.9 percent. Small business customers will also be impacted, seeing price surges of between 14.7 to 28.9 percent. The AER attributed the rise in retail electricity prices to the high wholesale energy costs and expensive electricity futures contracts signed in 2022, as well as higher costs of coal and gas used for electricity generation, reliability issues with aging coal-fired generation assets, and the closure of Liddell Power Station. AER Chair Clare Savage highlighted the need for consumers to shop around and contact retailers for assistance. The federal government clarified that its interventions in the energy market, including price caps on wholesale coal and gas, had helped shield Australian consumers from “the worst of global energy price crisis” despite the rise in prices. Energy Minister Chris Bowen believes that when more renewable energy enters the system, Australians will face less price pressure. However, Opposition energy spokesman Ted O’Brien criticized the government, saying that the lower-than-forecast price increase was not a win for the Labor Party which had promised to provide people with cheaper electricity bills.
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