South Australian power consumers have been slugged for a massive $4.5 million price spike for services that stop energy infrastructure from blowing up.
The Australian Energy Regulator released a report on Tuesday night into why prices for services which stabilisethe grid exceeded $5000/MWh in SA on October 18 last year.
It found that for more than five hours, the cost of the services which regulate frequency soared to more than $11,000/MWh, bringing the total cost for the day to $4.5 million.
“In comparison, FCAS (Frequency Control Ancillary Services) costs across all mainland National Electricity Market regions combined are typically around $200,000 per day,” the report stated.
Over the week inclusive of October 18, 40 per cent of the cost — or $1.8 million — was paid for by customers and 60 per cent of the cost was recovered from generators, which The Advertiser understands tended to be wind farms because they cause frequency changes.
Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said these stability services were required to protect the network in the event SA was separated from the national grid.
“I am advised the price spike was caused by issues with two gas-fired power stations. The cost will be met by both electricity generators and consumers,” he said.
“Our energy plan includes building a new gas-fired station and Australia’s largest battery, both will improve grid security.”
Separate data released by the regulator yesterday shows that SA energy consumers had the highest average electricity debt in the country, were the most likely to be on a hardship program and most likely to have their electricity disconnected due to non payment.
A total of 2412 residential electricity customers had their service disconnected in the last quarter of 2016, and 656 residential gas customers.
Almost 20,000 gas and electricity consumers are on hardship programs, with almost one in every 50 electricity customers on a program — again the highest in the nation.
Opposition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan said South Australians had been caught in a “pincer movement of rising prices”.
He called on the AER to immediately raise the level of debt that triggered a disconnection, saying the current $300 threshold was too low.