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Rising electricity prices firmly established themselves as a political hot potato again this week, with the release of the Australian Energy Market Commission’s report connecting the closure of Victoria’s Hazelwood brown coal generator with higher power bills up and down the nation’s east coast.

Dubious modelling methods aside, the resulting mainstream media reports confidently added dollar amounts to the future electricity bills of the nation’s households: $99 in Victoria; $74 in NSW; $204 in Tasmania; $150 in South Australia; $46 in the ACT; and $28 in Queensland.

On average, the hikes to power bills would cost Australians $78 more a year, the headlines told us, while Coalition politicians tut-tutted about high state-based renewable energy targets pushing out cheap coal.

But what, exactly, is the consumer cost of closing one of the world’s dirtiest power plants? In the below letter to The Age newspaper, published on Thursday, Andrea Bunting – a member of the community not-for-profit group Climate Action Moreland – offers some much needed perspective on the matter.
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But there’s more perspective where that came from. According to the federal government’s own Your Energy Savings website, the following “simple actions” could save a household of four about $825 over the course of a year:

– Getting rid of the second fridge, if you’ve got one, could save around $172 a year;

– Switching off the game console after use could save up to $193 a year;

– Using the clothesline once a week instead of using the dryer could save around $79 a year;

– Installing a water-efficient showerhead could save you up to $380 a year on energy AND water.

Now those are some numbers with punch.

12 replies on “Hazelwood closure to cost the same as one inefficient lightbulb”

  1. ……”Getting rid of the second fridge if you’ve got one”….. when doing energy assessments i came across numerous homes with many fridges. 3 was common. One couple had 6 of them!
    Agreed many savings options to more than offset the increasing energy cost

    1. Spot on with the number of fridges people have. Spoke to someone the other day with 5 of them. Best beer fridge is a standard chest freezer, connect by an external thermostat, set from 2º to 6º. Typical summer peak is 250Wh/40ºday to winter low of 150W/day for a 150 litre beer fridge. Mine run off the sun with a battery backed inverter.

      Another big energy waster is the electric jug. If filled to 1 litre as much as 800Wh/day when boiled 8 times. Filled to the top, as so many people do, and 1500Wh/day isn’t unusual.

  2. How can the retirement of the Hazelwood power station increase the price for electricity if the owner tells us that the plant had to be retired because it was no more financially competitive? My head spins.
    At the same time all people complaining about raising electricity prices and linking them to renewable energy did not mention raising gas prices. Strange.

    1. It’s simple really, close the old coal power station which churned out power even when it was not needed and now there is a void which must be filled by all other generators. South Australia experienced such a void which at times required the dispatchability of gas . The gas generators took advantage and gouged out higher prices for themselves. As new wind, solar , storage and interconnection with Tasmania’s hydro comes online. Then gas will not be required to stabilise the grid and prices might come down. The small cost increase that is touted is far less than all the recent ‘administrative’ increases we have experienced in the last 5 years. A second reason for this suggested increase after Hazelwoods closure is the excuse it gives the gentalers to hike up their prices . Those numbers you see for each state must reflect the brazenness of each to use this excuse!

    2. Hazelwood was put on notice by Workcover for a number of safety orders which required hundreds of millions of dollars just to comply with. For a piece of equipment that was supposed to go offline in 2005 and would have shut down in 2025 anyway. Engie couldn’t justify the expense, it would have raised the marginal cost of generation for them and made other sources of electricity (such as Victoria’s gas fired generators that don’t run) competitive.

      Then you have a number of wind and solar schemes due to come online within the next 24 months.

      Plus the cost of installing new wind and solar continues to drop.

      Hazelwood is the equivalent of a clapped out Datsun 120Y that can’t get a roadworthy.

    1. Although print media is less important than it was, never underestimate the power of a letter to the editor.
      I was told that Politicians have someone scan the letters section and assume that for every letter published there are 200 hundred voters with a similar opinion.
      Good work Andrea.

  3. While this is no headline story, Andrea Bunting comment about saving, got me to put these few notes together about ‘saving’.
    “I am finding it a bit hard to save these days, and I forget where my base line should be measured from.
    Did the solar hot water in 2001.
    Did solar panels in 2009.
    Adding a few more panels in 2011 and put some on a relatives’s place.
    Got some LEDs in 2012. Then some more – no incandescents in the house now.
    Got an electric battery mower and whipper snipper in 2012.
    Got a little Toyota PRIUS 2013 – learnt to love the EV drive but PRIUS battery too small.
    Got an In-House-Monitor for electricity use – great motivator.
    Then upgraded to a Plug-in hybrid – now daily commute is all electric.
    My daily kWh doubled but saved more than that by not purchasing dinosaur juice.
    Now looking for my next big save.”

    1. Totally agree with the In House Monitor being a great motivator.
      If Governments or individuals want to reduce their energy use, monitoring should be priority one.
      I think my Wattson was about $100. Identified immediately my reverse cycle AC (Heat pump) was using 60 watts 24/7. I now turn it off at the board.
      Best money I ever spent.

    2. Insulation / airsealing?
      How do you heat & cool your house?

      Those are probably the next two things to look at. If you already have a heat pump (reversible air conditioner), and have already airsealed and insulated and installed mechanical ventilation, that’s probably it.

      1. A good question I did forget neroden.
        Heating & Cooling house – ceiling insulation and closed/sealed wall vents in an old house.

        House Heating
        1. Home ventilation system (HRV) moving warmer ceiling air into the house in the cooler parts of the year. But this is not a cooling system and not used for air ventilation – this was not a good investment but it seems OK for this and venting hot air.
        2. Reverse A/C heating
        3. Gas heating though connection costs more than gas used most of the year.

        House Cooling
        1. ceiling fans – great in the bedrooms at night
        2. HRV used to vent ceiling cavity of hot air at night
        3. Reverse A/C cooling

    3. Kudos. And if what you have done can be replicated – easily – by about 60 million Trump voters, then finally we will have the basis of a climate change action plan – an action plan that might finally shift the Keeling Curve.

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