Via Herald Sun:
BLACKOUTS plagued more than 60,000 homes statewide at the weekend despite Victorians being slugged hundreds of dollars a year in fees to maintain the electricity network.
The average household will pay from $404 to $673 in tariffs for poles and wires this year, a sum that can account for 20 to 40 per cent of a retail bill.
The charges are levied to pay for network maintenance and to ensure “a safe and reliable electricity supply”.
But amid “intense” demand for power at the weekend, the system buckled. Distributors blamed the blackouts on “localised fuse faults”.
Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday that his government would consider whether it needed to compel distributors to upgrade the network.
“The distribution companies are required to maintain and improve the network, and they have been charging customers handsomely to do that,” Mr Andrews said.
More than 2000 customers were still without power about 6pm on Monday.
United Energy’s website and phone lines crashed as people tried to find out when they would be reconnected.
The reason is pretty straight forward. Victoria privatised its “poles and wires” networks under Jeff Kennett, long before other states. As a result it did not join into with the NSW and QLD “gold-plating” binge on network upgrades which was driven by some whacko incentives for public corporations, via the Garnaut Review:
As a result, VIC power prices have been cheaper than northern states over the past fifteen years as the private profit motive kept investment to minimums. United Energy is owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka Shing, among many other network assets in Australia. Today there are obvious questions to ask about reliability versus efficiency.
As we know, in more recent times, VIC utility prices have skyrocketed as the Curtis Island gas cartel wreaked havoc on gas prices.
Coincidentally, both energy debacles cost roughly $80bn in wasted capex to make the energy market less efficient.