Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

Ben Fordham
Electricity prices, solar panels, local manufacturing, Energy Made Easy

BEN FORDHAM: We're being promised electricity prices are about to go down. New Government data shows the average home in New South Wales will be saving an average of $50, but not straight away, by 2024. Now we have heard this many times before. And it was only a month ago that we were being warned that we would start paying more during summer peak pricing, because you pay a premium between 2pm and 8pm every day. So let's go to Angus Taylor, the Federal Energy Minister, he's on the line. Angus Taylor, good morning. 

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good morning, Ben. Thanks for having me.

BEN FORDHAM: Why do you say we're going to be saving even more money by 2024? 

ANGUS TAYLOR: We've seen a 10 per cent price reduction in recent years, Ben, across the east coast, and we're expecting another 6 per cent - about 4 per cent in New South Wales. The key to this is we're seeing supply coming in, and we aren't seeing the big loss of generators that we've seen in the past, when Hazelwood closed in Victoria, for instance. That's been absolutely central to Government policy. We don't want to see supply leaving the market, and we do want to see supply coming in. Part of the key in New South Wales is getting the Kurri Kurri generator up in the Hunter Valley. That modelling for forecast future prices doesn't include an additional generator that's going to be coming in in the Illawarra - the Tallawarra B generator. So if anything, we think it's conservative. So this is good news, but the only way to be sure you can get a reduction in your prices is to shop around, Ben. It's really important people get on the phone or get on the internet. Energy Made Easy is a great website where you can upload your usage and get the best possible plan for your particular circumstances.

BEN FORDHAM: Minister, you delivered a major speech at the Glasgow climate change summit recently, and you spoke about low cost solar panels. You say that solar will one day become our largest energy source. When are we going to start making them here? Because this is Aussie technology, but now 90 per cent of the panel's we buy come from China. 

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, 90 per cent of the panel's we buy have Australian technology in them as you point out, Ben, that's important. We do have a local producer in South Australia, Tindo, and strongly encourage people to support that local manufacturer. But as Industry Minister now, this is a big focus. We've prioritised solar technology as a crucial technology for Australia, because we've got the highest rate of household solar in the world in Australia. We want to see more manufacturing in Australia, and it's a core focus for the Government. 

BEN FORDHAM: Okay. You gave $33 million last week towards locally manufactured food. So how much money are you going to throw at solar? 

ANGUS TAYLOR: We're still working that through, but there's no doubt that we've already thrown a significant amount at solar in this country, and solar research and manufacturing, and will continue to in the coming years. I mean, we've got absolutely leading capability in this country at places like University of New South Wales. We've got a good local manufacturer, and we want to see more in the coming years. As a big user of solar, you're quite right in saying we want to see more of the activity leading to those solar panels being built happening here in Australia. 

BEN FORDHAM: You say, overall, electricity prices are coming down, but we do need a brace for a price rise over summer, right? 

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, that's wholesale prices, not retail prices. Every Summer we see an increase in wholesale prices - that's not new, that happens each year. And we see changes even during the course of the day. Now, most users are shielded from that. Very, very big users might actually work on a wholesale price. But for most people, the key is have a look at your wholesale price, get onto Energy Made Easy, get a good deal. There's good deals around, Ben, with a period of falling prices, that's when you get the best deals available. 

BEN FORDHAM: Always good to talk to you. Thanks for your time. 

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good on you. Thanks, Ben.