Energy pricing: but what about all the recent rain?
Wednesday, 18 July 2007 10:00
The drought is still being seen as the biggest factor behind recent increases in electricity prices.
More clearly though, it is the lack of available water for production of electricity that is causing the issue. 'But what about all the recent rain' we hear our customers cry! Let's look at this more closely. Macquarie Generation (NSW Government owned)Via the Bayswater & Liddell power stations located in the upper Hunter, these two generators produce 40% of NSW's electricity. More than half of the water allocation to run the plants is held in Glenbawn Dam, the other half intended to come from periodic opportunities to pump during high flow events in the Hunter River, which occur downstream of Glenbawn Dam. Recent rainfall in the Hunter Region and high flows in the Hunter River has resulted in some inflows into the region's dams and Macquarie Generation's water storages. However despite the rainfall, the Upper Hunter Region remains drought declared and without further rain and subsequent high flow events, Macquarie Generation's electricity output may be affected from mid 2009. Delta Electricity (NSW & VIC Government owned)
- Wallerawang & Mount Piper. Restrictions have been placed on water usage from the Cox's river which is the main supply to these power plants. It has been suggested the available water supply to these stations is currently sitting at 19%.
- Vales Point & Munmorah. Munmorah draws both salt & fresh water whereas Vales Point draws from Lake Macquarie.
Snowy-hydro (NSW Government owned)Because of the continuing extremely low water inflows, water levels in Snowy Scheme storages have steadily decreased since 1997 and are currently at their lowest level since construction of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. While water inflows over the months of May and June 2007 were a slight improvement on the previous 12 months, which were at about 25% of long term average, they were not sufficient to make a significant impact on water storage levels. Unfortunately, recent heavy rainfalls experienced in other areas of the country have not occurred in the region and catchment area.
Of course there are other generators around such as numerous gas-fired peaking plants but overall, despite recent rain, it is not going where it is needed to impact on stores for the generation of electricity. This above, combined with the recent cold weather, general supply v’s demand, the move towards renewable energy sources and reduced generational capacity in both Queensland & Victoria all have impacted on electricity prices. The above is by no means the definitive guide to the reasons behind increased electricity costs but hopefully sheds some light on your pricing when you look at your next energy bill.