About WA’S ENERGY SUPPLY
In WA, electricity and gas are sold in quantities called ‘Units.’ One Unit of electricity is an equivalent amount of energy to 1 Unit of gas. However, the very highest efficiency that a consumer can use gas is around 90% efficiency, while electricity can be used at heat-pump efficiencies up to 450%
In the case of electricity, 1 kWh (kiloWattHour) is called a Unit of energy. This is the equivalent of an appliance that uses 1000 Watts of power running for one hour. (eg a small heater) What can one Unit do? See more…
Yes, you noticed that power and energy are used distinctly! See more…
For help with reading your ELECTRICITY meters and bills (including solar output for those with solar panels) and meters, and handy charts for monitoring your use, See more… and a sample meter reading chart here.
In WA, gas is sold to us as Units, though in other states and overseas ‘MegaJoules’ (MJ) are usually used. Our gas meters measure the gas we use in cubic metres. There is a formula for converting cubic metres to Units of gas. For help with reading your GAS bills and meters and monitoring your use ,see more…
Electricity supply in WA
Western Power sends electricity via poles and wires to most West Australian homes, through its grid, called the South West Interconnected System (SWIS for short) stretching from Kalbarri to Bremer Bay and out to Kalgoorlie. This electricity is then retailed by Synergy. Horizon Power generates, distributes and retails electricity to most of the rest of WA.
All this electricity comes mostly from power stations fired by coal and gas, but an increasing amount is being fed into the grid from wind and solar farms/rooftops. Western Power, Horizon and Synergy are all still in WA government hands.
Businesses can choose a private energy retailer if they use more than 50 MegaWattHours (50,000 Units) per year (costing them $15,000+). This is called the ‘contestable market’ because private retailers compete to supply businesses with their electricity.
WA is not part of the National Electricity Market (NEM). WA has its own Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) for the SWIS. You can see the generation of renewables here. https://aemo.com.au/energy-systems/electricity/wholesale-electricity-market-wem/data-wem/data-dashboard#generation-map
For Financial Year 2022-23, 1 Unit of electricity (standard 24/7 A1 tariff) is sold to Perth homes for 30.0605c per unit while the daily supply charge is $1.08. (both prices include gst.)
Greenhouse gases: The SWIS, WA’s SouthWest Interconnected System (covering metro, southwest and Kalgoorlie) uses coal, gas and renewables, including excess rooftop solar. Consumption of one Unit of electricity from this grid now releases 0.51kg of greenhouse gases https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2022L00815 . These emissions have been coming down dramatically over recent years, as more renewables are added to our grid!
The financial and climate costs of a household using 14 Units of electricity a day:
14 Units x 30c cents = $4.20 + standard supply charge of $1.08 a day = $5.29 per day + 7.14kg of greenhouse gas.
Gas supply in WA
• ‘Natural’ Gas piped to your home
In WA, gas supply is now all in private hands, with gas retailers often offering introductory and loyalty deals to get and keep your account. Watch out for price rises when the honeymoon period is over!
1 Unit = 1kWh (the same amount of energy as a Unit of electricity). Gas users pay ~15c per Unit of gas (depending on the deal you are on). You also pay standard supply & account charges of ~30c per day.
The gas industry is still trying to market gas as more eco-friendly than coal. But there are enormous quantities of fugitive emissions from the various stages of gas production, including after wells are abandoned. Production of 1 Unit of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) piped to our homes for our stoves, hot water and gas heating, (fully, and correctly accounted for) is now thought to release at least as much greenhouse gas as the production of 1 Unit of electricity for our SWIS grid. For example, the Pinjar gas turbine Station, still causes an emissions impact of 1 kg ghg for every Unit of electricity it produces. https://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/DocumentAssets/Pages/Greenhouse-and-energy-information-by-designated-generation-facility-2020-21.aspx
Electricity from our grid will go on getting less greenhouse intensive as more renewables are added, whereas gas will not! So when thinking about replacing major appliances (stove, hot water system, heating) think “Goodbye to Gas!” The Conservation Council of WA has produced numerous reports about WA’s gas industry and campaigns strongly against big new projects that too easily get WA government approval.
As well as being worse environmentally, gas now costs more for home heating than reverse cycle air conditioning which has made great leaps in efficiency in recent years! On p7 of our booklet (downloadable from our home page) we compare the cost per Unit of heat delivered. reverse cycle air conditioning (12c) v gas heating (17.6c) v electric radiators of various kinds (30c) v woodfire if you buy your wood (at least 17c)