Wind farms, hydro power and other renewable energy sources will actually cut household electricity bills, not push up bills as detractors have claimed, a new study suggests.
Research commissioned by wind farm owner Meridian Energy found the national renewable energy target – which requires electricity generators to provide at least 20 per cent of power from clean sources by 2020 – will ultimately force down wholesale power prices.
It found the renewable energy legislation would save Victorian households about $35 a year if the carbon price stayed, and $50 if it were abolished.
South Australia – which already gets more than 20 per cent of power from renewables – would save as much as $56 a year.
It is a different story in NSW and Queensland, where renewable energy has less impact on wholesale prices. Households in the northern states would pay up to $27 more because of the legislation.
The study found that nationally, households would be in front, saving as much as $12 a year – assuming the carbon price survived.
Meridian Energy Australia chief executive Ben Burge said the study, which was commissioned from consultants Sinclair Merz Knight, challenged claims that renewable energy was driving up power bills.
"The [target] has been mischaracterised as a direct tax on consumers," said Mr Burge, who is also the chief executive of retailer Powershop.
"What this research proves is that wind is not the culprit. Wind reduces pressure on households."