The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) today published a report into high energy prices exceeding $5,000 per megawatt hour (MWh), in the National Electricity Market (NEM) over January, February and March 2023. These included high prices on:
- 31 January 2023 in Queensland
- 9, 15 and 16 February in South Australia
- 1 March in Queensland
- 16 and 17 March in Queensland and New South Wales.
All the high prices were caused, in part, by regional heatwaves which drove high demand (including near record demand in Queensland on 17 March). Other contributing factors included:
- On 31 January and 1 March in Queensland, constraints on the interconnectors between New South Wales and Queensland limited access to cheaper generation from New South Wales. There was also little, or no capacity offered between $5,000/MWh and $15,500/MWh in the region, meaning small changes in demand or offers had a significant impact on price.
- On 9, 15 and 16 February in South Australia, low wind output and network limitations meant the region had limited access to cheaper generation from Victoria.
- On 16 and 17 March in Queensland and New South Wales, there were multiple generator outages and imports from Victoria were very limited due to a network outage.
For all but one of the prices above $5,000/MWh, rebidding compounded already tight market conditions contributing to the high prices.
The AER is required to report into significant price outcomes in the NEM.
A high price may occur due to a variety of factors, including outages that adversely affect supply-demand conditions in the wholesale market.
The AER’s role in monitoring wholesale energy markets and reporting on high price events helps to enhance market transparency and compliance.
Our analysis provides a foundation to detect non-compliance, market irregularities, inefficiencies and consumer harm. We draw on this work to advise stakeholders and market bodies on wholesale market issues.
The AER has published a Guideline for how we report into significant price outcomes.