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With Australia moving back to more lock downs it is interesting to see how COVID is impacting individual households.

Household electricity use has increased by 10% as people have been working from home and as a result household power bills increased by 7%. The bill increases are related to the increased consumption even though the underlying wholesale electricity prices have dropped by 4.8%.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reported that even though household consumption increased it was at the demise of small business electricity use which decreased by 17%.

With wholesale prices dropping they are putting pressure on the profits of the retailers but despite the pressures the ACCC expects household bills to drop further as the wholesale prices flow through to the end user.

Low spot prices following COVID and the penetration of renewable energy triggered profit warnings from Origin Energy, AGL Energy, Stanwell, and Energy Australia.

As safeguards end on 1 July, the ACCC has warned retailers they are obliged to pass on the lower wholesale prices. This is despite the increases experienced in May and June when spot prices increased following the failure at Callide power station.

The “big stick” legislation that started in June 2020, obligates retailers to adjust their prices in line with their costs of securing electricity.

The ACCC is currently investigating several electricity retailers’ prices to see if recent wholesale price reductions were being passed on to consumers.