Causes of residential electricity bill changes in Victoria, 1995 to prepared for: Victorian Electricity Distribution Businesses

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1 Causes of residential electricity bill changes in Victoria, 1995 to 2014 prepared for: Victorian Electricity Distribution Businesses

2 DISCLAIMER This report has been prepared for the Victorian Electricity Distribution Businesses as part of their ongoing commitment to engaging with customers on energy issues of interest. The analysis and information provided in this report is derived in whole or in part from information prepared by a range of parties other than Oakley Greenwood (OGW), almost all of which are publically available. OGW explicitly disclaims liability for any errors or omissions in that information, or any other aspect of the validity of that information. We also disclaim liability for the use of any information in this report by any party for any purpose other than the intended purpose. DOCUMENT INFORMATION Project Client Status Report prepared by Causes of residential electricity bill changes in Victoria, 1995 to 2014 Victorian Electricity Distribution Businesses Lance Hoch Rohan Harris Date

3 Table of CONTENTS 1. Background Purpose and approach Findings Changes in Victoria residential electricity prices from 1995 to Comparison with other states Appendix A : Detail of residential electricity price changes in Victoria, A.1 Changes in the average residential electricity bill in Victoria from 1995 to A.2 Calculation of the bill components FY A.3 Calculation of the bill components through i

4 Table of FIGURES Figure 1: Composition of the annual residential electricity bill in Victoria (4,000 kwh; without electric off-peak hot water), FY2001 to FY2014 (2014 dollars)... 5 Figure 2: Per cent composition of the annual residential electricity bill in Victoria (4,000 kwh; without electric off-peak hot water), FY2001 to FY2014 (2014 dollars)... 6 Figure 3: Sources and relative sizes of the increase in the average residential electricity bill in Victoria, FY1995 to FY2014 (2014 dollars)... 9 Figure 4: Composition of the bill of a single-rate residential customer that uses 4,000 kwh (exclusive of GST) across the NEM states, FY Table of TABLES Table 1: Distribution charges in different NEM areas for a single-rate residential electricity customer that uses 4,000 kwh in FY2014 (exclusive of GST and carbon price) Table 2: Composition of the annual bill of a residential electricity customer in Victoria using 4,000 kwh (without electric off-peak hot water) FY01 to FY14 (2014 dollars) ii

5 1. Background Residential electricity prices which had been fairly stable in real terms across the National Electricity Market (NEM) from the mid-nineties through to about began increasing significantly in 2007 in some jurisdictions and in 2008 in others. By 2012, after four to five successive years of increases that in several jurisdictions were 10% or more annually, electricity prices had become a topic of national political concern. In much of the media commentary about these increases, network charges the costs included in consumers bills for the physical delivery of electricity and related services 2 had been identified as the main cause of the increases. As part of the discussion about electricity prices, the Victorian electricity distribution companies asked Oakley Greenwood to provide an independent analysis of the various charges that make up the bill of an average residential electricity consumer in Victoria, and how that has changed over time. The results of that analysis were published in March That analysis demonstrated that the amount by which the price of electricity had increased and what had driven the increase varied significantly from state to state. A follow-up study was published in April 2014 that updated the information in the first study through That study went beyond the earlier report in two ways: It identified the impact of government policies on the retail portion of the bill as well as on the network portion 3, and It extended the timeframe considered by including , the year before the Victorian electricity distribution businesses were privatised, and 2013, one additional year to the timeframe addressed in the previous report. 2. Purpose and approach This report provides updated information on the same topics through 2014; namely, the extent to which residential retail electricity prices have changed in Victoria, and what has driven those changes. It provides one additional bit of information to what has been presented in earlier reports: It disaggregates the category labelled Wholesale energy and retails costs that was presented in the earlier versions into 1 In Victoria the amount paid by the average residential consumer actually declined in real dollar terms between 1995 and 2001, and between 2001 and Further detail is presented in Section The term networks refers to both electricity transmission and distribution companies. Transmission companies transport electricity in bulk (at high voltage) from major generators directly to very large customers, and to the start of distribution networks. The voltage is then reduced and distribution companies deliver electricity directly to industrial, business and residential consumers. 3 The March 2013 report only identified those policy costs associated with environmental impacts and metering that affected the network portion of the bill. By also separating out the policy costs that affect the wholesale/retail portion of the bill, the April 2014 report treated the network and wholesale/retail components of the bill equally, and also allowed the full impact of government policies on residential electricity prices to be seen. 4 Note that all years are expressed as financial years. For example, 1995 and FY1995 are both used in this report to refer to the year running from 1 July 1994 through 30 June

6 Wholesale electricity costs, and Retail operating costs and margin. Section 3.1 of this report presents information on the composition of and changes in the annual electricity bill of the average residential customer who does not use off-peak electric water heating in 1995 and from 2001 through Appendix A provides further detail on how the component costs were derived for 1995 and for 2001 through In undertaking the analysis presented in this study we have relied on publicly available data. Two of the primary sources used were: The Annual Pricing Proposals lodged by each of the Victorian electricity distribution companies with the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) These documents provide information on the charges that the Victorian electricity distribution companies make to electricity retailers related to their residential customers. The amount charged is broken down into the following categories: transmission services, distribution services, metering charges and charges to recover the costs of the premium solar feed-in tariff that was put in place by the Victorian government commencing on 1 November 2009 and the Transitional feed-in tariff commencing 1 Jan 2012, and which continues, though at a lower feed-in rate 5. Section 3.2 of this report, as in the previous reports, includes a comparison of the components of residential electricity bills across the NEM states. The comparison provided in this report differs from those provided in the previous reports because two additional states have discontinued retail electricity price regulation since the last report was issued in April Retail electricity prices were fully de-regulated in South Australia on 1 February 2013, and in NSW as of 1 July In addition, Queensland has announced that it will end retail electricity price regulation in the southeast of the state as of 1 July Note that this does not include any other feed-in tariffs or other incentives offered by electricity retailers or the Commonwealth or local governments. Note also that the Premium Feed-in Tariff closed to new customers on 29 December 2011, and the Transitional Feed-in Tariff closed to new customers on 31 December 2012). However, the distribution businesses must continue to pay the applicable feed-in tariff to all customers enrolled in those programs before they were closed (see: ). 2

7 Information compiled by the Victoria Essential Services Commission (ESC) regarding the size of the average residential electricity bill in Victoria 6. Starting in 2007, the ESC has published annual reports regarding the standing offers 7 and market offers 8 available in each of the distribution service areas within the state. A full discussion of all of the sources of information and how they were used in the analysis is presented in Appendix A. 3. Findings 3.1. Changes in Victoria residential electricity prices from 1995 to 2014 In this analysis we have assessed the components of the annual bill that would be incurred in each year by the average residential electricity customer (annual consumption of 4,000 kwh) who does not have off-peak electric water heating. The average annual bill was calculated somewhat differently for different years in analysis period, as follows: 1995 was the first year in which the electricity industry in Victoria had been vertically unbundled. The various parts of the industry had been sold off, but full retail competition had not yet been introduced and residential electricity prices were still fully regulated. The annual bill that would have been incurred for the consumption of 4,000 kwh (without electric water heating) was calculated with reference to the then applicable Maximum Uniform Tariff (converted to 2014 dollars). The same procedure was used in calculating the annual bill for 2001, as full retail competition was not introduced until The ESC provides information for two kinds of residential customers: customers on a single-rate tariff who do not use off-peak electric water heating (and with an annual average consumption of 4,000 kwh), and customers with off-peak water heating (with an annual average consumption of 4,000 kwh plus 2,500 kwh off-peak for water heating). The analysis presented in this paper is for single-rate consumers without electric water heating as this is by far the larger of the two groups. 7 Standing offers are the gazetted retail tariffs that are available in each distribution service territory. From 2002 through 2008 these tariffs were set by the Essential Service Commission (for the first year or two) and subsequently by the Victorian Government. In both cases the regulated tariff was set based on the estimated costs incurred by electricity retailers in serving residential customers. Retail electricity prices were fully de-regulated as of 1 January After that time, while electricity retailers have still been required to provide a standing offer to any customer who has not previously taken up a market contract, that offer is no longer reviewed nor does it need to be approved by the government or the regulator. 8 Market offers include all electricity contracts offered by electricity retailers to residential consumers other than standing offers. There are generally a number of market offers available within each distribution service area, and a single electricity retailer will often provide more than one choice of market offer. In addition to the price to be charged for the electricity purchased by the customer, market offers often include a fixed term, in some cases an exit fee if the contract is terminated early, various types of discounts (e.g., for paying the bill on time) and other features and conditions. 3

8 From 2002 through 2014 the average annual residential electricity bill for a customer consuming 4,000 kwh without electric water heating was calculated with reference to the straight arithmetic average of the market offers available in the market in the year in question 9. We used the market offers within each distribution area because significantly more residential consumers in Victoria purchase their electricity under a market offer as compared to a standing offer contract 10. We then calculated a state-wide average annual bill by weighting the results in each distribution area by the number of customers in that distribution area. Figure 1 on the following page shows the component and total costs of the average annual residential bill from 1995 to The figures are shown in 2014 dollars to remove the effect of inflation on the results. Figure 2 presents the same information, but in percentage terms. That is, it shows the proportion of the average annual residential electricity bill that each component accounted for in each year. Table 1 in Appendix A presents the actual numbers that underlie both Figure 1 and Figure 2. 9 A simple arithmetic average of the undiscounted market offers available in each distribution area was used because no statistics are available regarding the number of residential consumers on each of the different market offers. Undiscounted offers were used because the availability of the discount often depends on actions the consumer may or may not have taken such as paying their bill on time and therefore we cannot say that the discounted price will always be received by the consumer. 10 Figures from the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation indicated that by 2012 around 75% of the residential electricity customers in Victoria have moved from standing offers to market offers. 4

9 Figure 1: Composition of the annual residential electricity bill in Victoria (4,000 kwh; without electric off-peak hot water),fy1995 and FY2001 to FY2014 (2014 dollars) $1,600 $1484 $1506 $1,400 $1,200 $1,000 $1030 $1009 $999 $981 $937 $922 $881 $864 $944 $1025 $1137 $1172 $1297 $800 $600 $400 $200 $ Distribution Transmission AMI Metering Feed-in tariffs VEET RET Carbon price Wholesale electricity Retail GST Standard network services Policy costs - network Policy costs - retail Total costs charged in the network portion of the bill All other costs included in the bill Note: The figures at the top of each bar show the total annual bill for a residential electricity customer in Victoria without electric off-peak water heating that uses 4,000 kwh over the course of the year. 5

10 Figure 2: Per cent composition of the annual residential electricity bill in Victoria (4,000 kwh; without electric off-peak hot water), FY1995 and FY2001 to FY2014 (2014 dollars) 100.0% $1030 $1009 $999 $981 $937 $922 $881 $864 $944 $1025 $1137 $1172 $1297 $1484 $ % 80.0% 70.0% 60.0% 50.0% 40.0% 30.0% 20.0% 10.0% 0.0% Distribution Transmission AMI Metering Feed-in tariffs VEET RET Carbon price Wholesale electricity Retail GST Standard network services Policy costs - network Policy costs - retail Total costs charged in the network portion of the bill All other costs included in the bill Note: The figures at the top of each bar show the total annual bill for a residential electricity customer in Victoria without electric off-peak water heating that uses 4,000 kwh over the course of the year. 6

11 As can be seen in Figure 1, the annual bill of the average Victorian residential electricity consumer on a single rate tariff using 4,000 kwh per year has increased by $507 (in 2014 dollars) from 1995 to 2014, which represents an increase of 50.7% 11. However, the different components of the bill have not changed at the same rate over that timeframe. Since 1995, network-related costs in total including the cost of the Victorian Government s smart meter program and solar feed-in tariff have increased by only 8.3% - an increase of just $41 over those years. The nonnetwork related components of the bill the cost incurred by retailers in purchasing electricity from the wholesale market for use by residential customers and maintaining customers accounts, plus the costs of policy initiatives that affect the wholesale and retail portion of the bill increased by $329 (65.2%) over the period. More specifically: Although the cost of all network-related services increased by $41 over the period, the cost of standard network-related services 12 actually declined by $110 in real dollar terms over the period, a reduction of 22.2%. This reduction has been fully offset, however, by the introduction of two initiatives by the Victorian government: (a) the mandated roll-out of smart meters, which includes the cost of purchasing and installing the meters, and the communications and IT infrastructure required for their operation, and (b) the Premium Feed-In Tariff 13, which provides incentives to households whose small-scale solar PV systems feed electricity back into the grid. The costs of both of those programs are recovered through charges that affect the network portion of consumers bills. These programs have added $151 in costs to the annual bill of the average residential customer by In terms of their contribution to the total bill of the average Victorian residential electricity user, network-related costs including the costs of policies that are included in the network portion of the bill - have decreased over the period, from 49.5% to 35.4% of the bill. However, if the costs associated with government policy-related programs 14 are removed, the cost of standard network services can be seen to have actually dropped from 49.5% of the bill in 1995 to 25.6% in Appendix A provides the dollar values underlying the bar graphs in Figures 1 and Standard network services include all the costs associated with physically transporting electricity from generators to end-use consumers. Electricity distribution businesses have traditionally provided metering for residential customers, but until the Government mandated it, this did not include the use of smart meters. The Government s decision to roll out these meters on an accelerated basis increased the costs that the distribution companies experienced on an annual basis for metering. Not only were the meters more expensive than those the distribution companies had been buying, but the schedule of the roll-out meant that the distribution companies had to purchase more meters annually than they would have in the absence of the program. The decision to move to smart meters was made because several analyses had concluded that, over time, the benefits they could provide would outweigh their costs. 13 In this report we have separately identified only those Government policies that relate to smart meters and greenhouse gas emissions reductions because a number of these have been introduced in recent years and have had a material impact on customers bills. In practice, electricity prices are affected by government policies in a number of other areas, including other environmental, health and safety, and other issues. 14 For the purpose of this report, these programs are only the roll-out of smart meters and the cost of the Victorian government s solar feed-in tariff. 7

12 The cost of (a) the wholesale electricity purchased by the retailer for the average residential customer, (b) the other operating costs incurred by the retailer in serving the customer, and (c) the costs of policy initiatives charged through the retail portion of the bill increased by $329 in real dollar terms between 1995 and For reference, the operating costs of an electricity retailer doing business in Victoria include: the cost of purchasing electricity from the wholesale market at spot price, which includes the cost of financial hedges to manage the volatility of spot market prices 15, and from 1 July 2012 through 30 June 2014 also included the impact of the Commonwealth Government s carbon price, the cost of billing customers, processing their payments and answering their questions, the cost of marketing and information activities, and the costs associated with complying with relevant government policy initiatives such as (a) the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET), which commenced in January 2009 and requires retailers to achieve specified targets for improving the energy efficiency of their customers, and (b) the Commonwealth Government s Renewable Energy Target, which commenced in 2001 and requires retailers to ensure that a specified proportion of the electricity consumed by their customers comes from renewable sources. Over the period, the costs incurred by retailers for wholesale electricity purchases on behalf of residential electricity customers and for all other retail operating and associated policy-related costs have increased in terms of the percentage they represent of the annual bill of the average residential customer from 50.5% in 1995 to 55.4% in In terms of the total increase in the retail portion of the bill which amounted to $329 in real 2014 dollars between 1995 and the costs associated with government policy-related programs recovered through the retail portion of the bill noted above account for just under 40% ($129), while the cost of wholesale electricity and retail services accounts for just over 60%, at $200. By contrast, the annual cost of government policy initiatives associated with environmental issues and advanced metering that is recovered in customers bills has grown from zero in 1995 to $280 in These costs account for 18.6% of the average residential electricity bill in Victoria in The cost of policy initiatives recovered in the retail portion of the bill ($129) account for 8.6%, while the cost of policy initiatives recovered in the network portion ($151) account for 10.0%. It is important to note, however, that several of these policies are likely to have put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices even while they put upward pressure on the retail and network portions of the bill 16. This impact has not been separately quantified in this report. 15 Retailers use financial hedges to allow them to offer a set price for electricity to their customers despite the fact that the price the retailer pays for electricity varies every 30 minutes. The financial hedges act as a sort of insurance policy for the retailer and its customers, but there is a cost for that insurance. 16 For example, a number of studies have indicated that the RET puts downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices even though its impact on the retail portion of the bill outweighs that downward pressure. Similarly, work conducted for the Department of Primary Industries and the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation has determined that the VEET has similar impacts on the bill of the average Victorian residential electricity customer. 8

13 Figure 3 shows the relative contribution of the change in the cost of each of the components of the average residential electricity bill to the overall bill increase that has been experienced between 1995 and It shows that increases in network related costs including policyrelated costs that are recovered in the network portion of the bill - have accounted for 5.5% of the cost increase, while increases in the cost of electricity from the wholesale market for residential customers, other retailer services and the policy-related costs that are recovered in the retail network portion of the bill have accounted for 65.8% of the bill increases over the period. Figure 3: Sources and relative sizes of the increase in the average residential electricity bill in Victoria, FY1995 to FY2014 (2014 dollars) $1,800 Total bill in 2014: $1,506 (2014 dollars) Change in bill from 1995 to 2014: $476 (2014 dollars) $1,600 $700 $1,400 $1,200 $1,000 $800 $600 $400 $200 $ bill: $1,030 (2014 dollars Changes since 1995 $600 $500 $400 $300 $200 $100 $- GST: $137 Wholesale energy costs: $54 Retail services $131 Policy costs recovered in retail portion of bill: $128 Policy costs recovered in network portion of bill: $151 Transmission: -$ % 11.4% 27.5% 27.0% 31.6% - 6.4% GST Wholesale energy Retail energy services Retail policy costs Network policy costs Distribution Transmission -$200 -$100 Distribution: -$ % -$400 -$200 However, if the costs of government-policy related programs are removed, standard network services actually tended to reduce the increase in the average residential bill. The cost of standard network services decreased by $151 over the period, representing a contribution of negative 26.2% to the overall increase in the average residential single-rate electricity bill between 1995 and Most of this downward pressure came from the change in distribution charges - $120 of the $151 decrease. Policy costs also accounted for a significant proportion of the increase that has been experienced in the portion of the bill associated with wholesale energy and retail energy services between 1995 and Of the 65.8% increase of the overall bill that was due to increases in the wholesale/retail portion of the bill the portion of the bill, 27.0% was due to increases in policy costs namely, the costs associated with the VEET, the RET and the carbon price 17. A similar percentage (27.5%) of the overall increase was experienced in retail electricity services, and 11.4% was due to increases in the wholesale price of electricity. The $137 of GST, which was introduced in July 2001, accounted for 9.1% of the bill paid in 2014 by the average single-rate tariff residential customer, and represents 28.7% of the change in the bill of the average single-rate residential customer between 1995 and The removal of the carbon price as at 1 July 2014 was a significant factor in the fall in the influence of retail policy related costs in overall bill increases. Similarly, the decrease in wholesale electricity price mitigated the impact of that cost area on increases in the average annual residential electricity bill. 9

14 It is clear from all this that standard network services have not been the primary driver of electricity cost increases in Victoria during the years 1995 through 2014 (in fact, network costs have decreased over the period), and neither have the costs charged by electricity retailers for wholesale electricity and retail services. Rather, it is the cost of government policy initiatives associated with improved environmental outcomes, energy efficiency and advanced metering that has been the most significant cause of the increases that have been experienced in residential electricity bills, accounting for 54.9% of the increase between 1995 and This is a lesser influence than in previous years. While policy related costs accounted for 75.8% of the increase experienced in the annual electricity bill of a residential electricity consumer that used 4,000 kwh per year and does not have controlled electric water heating between 1995 and 2013, those same costs accounted for a significantly smaller proportion of the increase in the annual bill between 1995 and This was due to several factors including: the removal of the carbon price as at 1 July 2014 the very soft wholesale electricity prices that pertained throughout 2013/14, and increases in the retail energy services portion of the bill. In considering the impact of policy costs on the bill It must also be remembered a primary function of government is to identify and enact policies and programs that achieve governmental objectives, and deliver benefits to society and this was certainly true of the policies and programs that have been taken into account in this analysis. The carbon price was acknowledged as increasing the cost of electricity generated from fossil fuels, but was enacted to reflect the environmental cost of carbon emissions and improve the competitiveness of less carbonintensive forms of electricity generation. Government policy associated with the carbon price also included compensation payments to lower income households in order to mitigate the impacts of the carbon price on their electricity bills. That compensation is not reflected in this analysis. The RET and the Premium Feed-in Tariff were implemented for a similar reason to encourage the competitiveness of alternative energy sources and thereby reduce the carbon intensity of the electricity sector and global warming. As noted previously, the RET (and the LRET) and the VEET (which was implemented to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assist end-use customers in reducing their electricity bills) have also been shown to put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices. Those impacts are reflected in the wholesale electricity prices that have been used in this report, but they have not been separately quantified. Other benefits that these policies may have produced and especially any benefits that do not affect electricity price have not been quantified or otherwise captured in this analysis. In short, while we have been explicit about the costs of these policies and programs, their benefits have not been made explicit. There is also a question of timing. In many cases the costs associated with the implementation of a policy or a program will be largely incurred upfront while the benefits accrue over time. The AMI roll-out is a good example of this. The costs of the meters and associated IT and communications systems required under the roll-out had to be paid up front, while most of the benefits are expected to be obtained over time, with a relatively smaller proportion of them occurring in the early years. As a result, the program will put very little downward pressure on prices in the early years to offset the costs incurred in their implementation. 10

15 3.2. Comparison with other states This section of the report compares the composition and size of the annual electricity bill of a residential customer that uses 4,000 kwh in Victoria with the composition and size of the bill of a residential customer using the same amount of electricity in the other NEM states 18. In all case, the comparison is for customers on single-rate tariffs (i.e., customers without controlled electric water heating). Figure 4 compares the composition of the bill of an average residential consumer in each of the NEM jurisdictions in 2013/14. Figure 4: Composition of the bill of a single-rate residential customer that uses 4,000 kwh (exclusive of GST) across the NEM states, FY % $1164 $1161 $1617 $1320 $1481 $968 $ % 80.0% 70.0% 60.0% 50.0% 40.0% 30.0% 20.0% 10.0% 0.0% Ausgrid Endeavour Essential Energex SAPN ActewAGL Vic Average Distribution Component Other Network Components Wholesale & Retail Components 18 Previous versions of this report compared the charges experienced by a customer that consumed the average amount of electricity for a single-rate residential tariff customer in each state. This version of the report uses a constant consumption level to better compare the level of charges in each state. There are a number of factors that affect total consumption, including climate, which affects heating and cooling loads, and the availability of other energy sources including gas (and, increasingly, solar energy), which affects the extent to which electricity is used to meet the annual energy needs of households in different areas. Previous versions of the report included consideration of policy-related costs in the comparison across states. This information was readily available from the determinations that set the regulated residential electricity tariffs in other states. However, Retail electricity prices were fully de-regulated in South Australia on 1 February 2013, and in NSW as of 1 July Queensland has announced that it will end retail electricity price regulation in the southeast of the state as of 1 July Without that one-stop source in each of the states, the only way to develop a disaggregation of the typical residential bill would be to recreate the analyses undertaken in the regulatory processes in each state. This was not possible within the time and budget available for this project. 19 Note that the figures for Victoria, NSW and SA are based on the average market offer pertaining in each respective distribution service areas (which, in the case of Victoria, are then presented as a weighted state-wide average). The figures for Queensland and the ACT are based on the 2014 regulated tariff within those states. This will make the absolute value of the bills and specifically the wholesale/retail component of the bills in VIC, NSW and SA lower as compared to those in the other jurisdictions than they would have been if a regulated or standing offer had been used. It should also be noted that the bill amounts in Figure 4 differ from those in Figures 1 through 3 in that (a) they are exclusive of GST, and (b) because the price determinations in these other states were made to apply from 1 July, they excluded the effect of the carbon price, consistent with Commonwealth Government policy the intent. To be consistent, the carbon price component of the Victorian average bill that was used in Figures 1 through 3 as removed from the value used in Figure 4. 11

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