A New Form of Energy Poverty is the Hallmark of Liberalised Energy Sectors
Australian Journal of Social Issues, 2012, 46(4): 435-59
25 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2014
Date Written: 2012
The restructuring of electricity sectors has resulted in households paying significantly higher prices. Some European prices rose by more than 100 per cent during 2000-10. NSW households experienced an 80 per cent increase during 2007-12. Growing numbers of low-income and vulnerable households are spending greater amounts of disposable income on energy bills and, as a result, suffering deprivation and social exclusion. This phenomenon, we posit, is a new form of energy poverty driven by rapidly rising electricity prices which are directly related to electricity sector restructuring. The energy-impoverished population is estimated at 150 million in Europe and growing. Policy responses are ineffective, poorly targeted and Australian policymakers rely on measures which significantly understate electricity price changes. This article explores the causes, prevalence and consequences of this social problem and outlines the extent of its occurrence in Australia, the country hailed as an exemplar of electricity sector liberalisation.
Keywords: electricity prices, electricity sector liberalisation, energy poverty, fuel poverty, low-income households
JEL Classification: B52, I30, Q48
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