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The Carbon Tax: What You Need To Know

Wednesday, 15th August 2012

The realities of a price on carbon are nearly here. With the single most dominant question asked by everyone connected to strata being: what does the carbon tax mean for us?

From 1st July, Australia's heaviest polluters will pay $24 per tonne of carbon dioxide produced. The Carbon Energy Regulator has already published an initial list of 250 'liable entities' that will face the tax, witha  further 80 companies notified that they are likely to face the new tax in the 2012-2013 financial year.

Households and small-medium businesses of course do not face direct liabilities; however the costs incurred by Australia's heaviest-emitting industries are expected to be passed down the line. And with 95% of Australia's energy consumption composed of non-renewable energy sources, an increase to energy bills appears unavoidable.

Energy Brokers Director, Michael Fowler said, "the impact on strata budgets for the forthcoming financial year will be approximately 2c to 2.3c KWH across the National Energy Market. This means the average price increase for a small strata plan is going to be about 10 to 11 percent and for a large strata plan - approximately 16%."

"In NSW though, the standard tariff prices are expected to increase 16%,  which will give an overall increase of between 20 to 30 percent, depending when the contract was negotiated and the overall price of the plan," he says.

Most we contacted were less than comfortable talking about the potential impact on household pricing. However, Treasury have forecast an increase in household electricity prices of 10% in 2012-13, with gas to go up 9% - the equivalent of $3.30 per week for electricity and $1.50 per week for gas.

In Queensland, the Queensland Urban Utilities expects  the carbon tax to indirectly increase the cost of its inputs, namely electricity, but will not impact its pricing in 2012-13 due to the Queensland Government-imposed pricing cap. Beyond this they were unable to speculate.

However, according to the Bureau of Resource Economics and Energy's 'Energy in Australia' report energy, including gas and electricity is actually a relatively small component of household expenditure - representing just 2.2% of total household consumption. The overall increase of in the cost of living for 2012-13 is 0.7% - the equivalent of $9.90 per week.

By way of compensation, the Federal Government will provide assistance to businesses and households through a range of mechanisms including tax-cuts and benefits. According to the Government's Clean Energy Future website, the average assistance for households will be $10.10  per week and about 40% of money raised from the carbon price will help businesses and support jobs.

A family earning an income of roughly $100,000, which has two teenagers, is expected to face an average cost of living impact of $653 per year. But will receive assistance of approximately $679 per year made up of about $73 extra in payments and $606 in tax cuts, meaning they are $26 better off, the website says.

Dr Nick Wood, KPMG Associate Director for Climate Change and Sustainability, says "a low carbon economy has consequences for all Australian businesses and presents significant opportunities for those who are able to understand and act.

Knowing how to access renewable or business innovative funding, or jobs and competitiveness programs, for example, many provide real competitive advantages and business growth opportunities," he says.

Mooreland Energy Foundation CEO, Paul Murfitt, says, "Energy efficiency remains the cheapest and most effective way to build community resilience to climate change, and achieve long term reductions in energy costs and admissions.

Our experience shows that with a little help, the community can save energy at little or no cost, and some of the greatest opportunities are in small and medium-size businesses."

Save Money by Saving Energy - Residential & Business
  1. In winter, put on a jumper and keep your heather thermostat to a maximum of 20C. Every degree costs you money.
  2. Set your fridge at 4C and freezer at -18C. Switch off your second fridge or freezer when not in use and save $110 each year.
  3. Wash your clothes in cold water and dry them on the clothesline to save $150 each year.
  4. Replace your showerhead with a low flow showerhead and save $75 on water heating costs each year. Shorten your showers to four minutes and save $100 per year on water heating costs.
  5. Close gaps around your windows and doors with weather strips and door-seals to reduce heating and cooling costs. Use lined curtains and pelmets to reduce air leaks. Save $100 a year with these actions.
  6. Get a carbon footprint assessment of your business.
  7. Arrange a consultation with an Eco Smart Electrician to identify opportunities for your business to reduce energy use and costs.
  8. Get an Energy audit to identify your key energy efficiency opportunities and provide indicative business benefits and costs for efficiency improvements.

This article appears courtesy of BCS.

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