The electricity industry is one of Australia’s largest industries, contributing 1.4% to Australia’s. The industry consists of generators, transmission and distribution networks and retailers. Over the ten years from 1999 to 2009, Australia’s electricity use increased at an average rate of 2.5% per year. In 2011 in some parts of the country electricity use has fallen for the first time ever.
The industry is now on the eve of its largest change ever, a full transformation similar to the transformation of the telecommunications industry that started 20 years ago. It is also one of the last industries to face digitalisation, which is essential to manage the pressures of energy savings, climate change and renewable energy policies. Underinvestment in the network meant that large investment increases were suddenly needed to upgrade the grid. Part of the problem here has been the lack of proper government policies and regulations that could have stimulated these investments. It was only in 2011 that the regulator admitted that there are problems that need to be addressed. In the meantime this situation has led to very steep increases in electricity prices, which is making customers far more vocal, and they will need better tools to manage their own energy use and carbon footprint. There is a significant absence of communication between the electricity companies and their customers and this has been aggravating the already difficult situation.
Already network investment plans worth over $10 billion have been approved by the companies involved.
All of this leads to developments around intelligent electricity infrastructure, or smart grids. These developments will bring with them enormous challenges, but untold new business opportunities as well.
This report provides general background information and statistical information on the electricity utilities market and its regulatory environment. It also provides an overview of the telecoms activities of the utilities.
Companies covered in this report include:
Ausgrid (formerly Energy Australia), Endeavour Energy (formerly Integral Energy), Essential Energy (formerly Country Energy), CitiPower, Powercor, SP AusNet, UED, Powerlink, TransGrid, ElectraNet, Transend.