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Energy prices skyrocket as inflation bites

Wholesale energy prices have more than doubled in the past year as Australian businesses adjust to rising prices.

16 May 2022 

Data released by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) shows that over the three months to 31 March, wholesale electricity prices shot up by 141% from the same quarter last year.

Electricity prices are also up 67% from the previous quarter, with prices averaging at $87 per megawatt hour.

The AEMO expects energy prices to continue to rise, forecasting energy companies will push up their power bills by 9% after the election.

Gas prices have also increased from the previous year, with prices averaging $9.93 per gigajoule compared with $6.05 per gigajoule in the 2021 March quarter.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) lifted the cash rate by 25 basis points on 3 May in response to inflation. In its statement, the RBA said that global inflation was high and was likely to remain so for a while, given recent supply-side shocks. 

“Energy and food prices have increased sharply following Russia's invasion of Ukraine,” the bank said. 

“The spread of COVID-19 in China is disrupting production there, which will add to existing challenges in global supply chains. Core inflation is also high in a number of economies where strong demand has outpaced growth in supply capacity, although it is not quite as high as headline inflation.”

“While wholesale electricity prices have picked up strongly in recent months, information from liaison suggests that wholesale prices typically comprise only around one-third of retail electricity bills and that pass-through is gradual.” 

However, the RBA noted that the sharp increase in wholesale energy prices observed in recent quarters suggested that retail energy prices could increase in the period ahead.

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