AAP FactCheck

Restoring confidence in public statements by independently testing and verifying the facts

Does NSW have the lowest energy bills in Australia?

By Louise Evans, James Lane & Tiffanie Turnbull

The Statement

“We actually have the lowest (energy) bills in Australia.”

Premier Gladys Berejiklian claims NSW residents have the cheapest power bills in the country. March 20, 2019.

The Analysis

During a live TV election debate, Premier Berejiklian said her government was reducing cost of living pressures on households and families by making sure NSW has the cheapest energy bills in Australia. [1]

AAP FactCheck examined the premier’s claim that NSW had the lowest energy bills in Australia.

AAP FactCheck found no evidence to support the premier’s claim.

While five different national and international reports differed on which Australian state or territory has the least expensive energy bills, none awarded NSW the title as the cheapest.

A St Vincent de Paul and Alviss Consulting National Energy Market 2018 annual report, funded by Energy Consumers Australia, compares the long-term price of electricity and gas across all states and territories from July 2009 to July 2018 as estimated annual bills. The report showed in 2018 that NSW had the third most expensive electricity with the Northern Territory being the cheapest followed by ACT and Tasmania. In 2018 Victoria had the cheapest gas followed by NSW. [2]

An Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) 2018 annual report, which compared electricity price trends in Australian states, found Victoria had the cheapest retail electricity bills followed by NSW and Queensland in 2017/2018. The AEMC report, titled Residential Electricity Price Trends, predicted these three Victoria-NSW-Queensland positions would remain unchanged through to 2020-21.

The AEMC annual reports are prepared at the request of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council. On page 74 the AEMC report included “future developments that have been announced and could affect the future trend in residential retail prices in New South Wales”. Under “clean energy initiatives to reduce power bills” it stated “the NSW government is delivering a range of new programs to provide clean and affordable energy for the people of NSW. These programs will assist households and businesses to save money on their energy bills.” [3]

Another 2018 comparison of countries and regions with the cheapest electricity prices, based on figures from Finnish research and advisory firm VaasaEtt and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), ranked West Australia as having the cheapest, ahead of Queensland second and Victoria third, NSW was fourth and South Australia was the most expensive. [4]

A 2016 comparison of Australia’s household electricity prices by Australian economics consultancy CME Carbon + Energy Markets MarkIntell showed ACT had the cheapest electricity prices followed by Tasmania, West Australia and Queensland. NSW was the fifth most expensive with Victoria and South Australia being the dearest. [5]

A year later in 2017 another CME comparison showed Victoria has cheapest electricity prices followed by Queensland and then NSW. [6]

The Verdict

  • False - The checkable claims are all false.

The References

1: NSW People’s Forum. Sky News. March 20, 2019: https://twitter.com/SkyNewsAust/status/1108294936972029952

2: ‘The National Energy Market - No “guarantee” for consumers’. St Vincent de Paul and Alviss Consulting. October 2018. Pages 6 and 7: https://www.vinnies.org.au/icms_docs/298264_2018_NEM_-_No_guarantee_for_consumers.pdf

3: ‘Residential Electricity Price Trends Review’. Australian Energy Market Commission annual report. December 21, 2018. Trends in representative residential electricity bills 2017/18 - 20/21, Page 6 & 74: https://www.datocms-assets.com/6959/1545274459-2018-residential-electricity-price-trends-final-report.PDF

4: ‘Australia’s electricity affordability problem’, By Simon O’Dea. Statista. July 18, 2018: https://www.statista.com/chart/14751/australias-electricity-affordability-problem/

5: ‘International comparison of Australia’s household electricity prices, a report prepared for consumer network, One Big Switch’. CME Carbon + Energy Markets MarkIntell. July 2016. Pages 10-13: http://cmeaustralia.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/160708-FINAL-REPORT-OBS-INTERNATIONAL-PRICE-COMPARISON.pdf

6: ‘Australian households pay highest power prices in world’, by Ben Potter and Andrew Tillett. The Australian Financial Review. August 5, 2017: https://www.afr.com/news/australian-households-pay-highest-power-prices-in-world-20170804-gxp58a

Revision History

  • First published March 21, 2019 18:03 AEDT