A 14 per cent reduction in distribution and metering charges for households while sustaining high network investment in reliability and safety is being offered by electricity distributor, United Energy under a new plan revealed today.

United Energy has submitted its Regulatory Proposal to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) for the 2021-2026 period. As a regulated business, United Energy’s proposed investments, pricing plans and rate of return are approved by the AER every five years and this determines the revenue able to be recovered from customers.

United Energy Chief Executive Officer Tim Rourke said the proposal responded directly to customer needs, expectations and priorities.

“Our plan is to deliver more to customers at a lower cost,” Mr Rourke said.

“United Energy is one of Australia’s most efficient electricity distribution networks and is continually improving.

“We are proposing high levels of investment so we can continue to operate the network safely and reliably. Efficiencies in our operations mean we can offer this increased investment while reducing costs to customers.”

Central to the plan is a substantial program to modernise and upgrade network assets, raise environmental protection standards, introduce new technologies and accommodate customer choices such as rooftop solar.

Distribution and metering revenue is forecast to fall by 6 per cent from $2,398 million in the current regulatory period to $2,245 million for 2021-2026.

United Energy proposes $1,219 million in capital expenditure (net) over five years, an increase of $210 million (21 percent) on the current regulatory period. This includes an annual program to replace pole-top assets, fuses and service lines as well as an increase in the number of poles replaced to 6,552 over the five years.

Operating expenditure is proposed at $798 million which is consistent with the current regulatory period.

At the same time, distribution and metering charges will fall by an average of $54 for residential customers to $331 per annum and $238 for small business customers.

Based on a typical household in Victoria, United Energy’s distribution charge (excluding metering) will represent $289 (31 per cent) of the average annual bill of $942 in 2021/2022.

Other major features of the proposal include:

  • $42 million to enable approximately 95 per cent of customers to connect a 5kVA solar PV system with export capability as the amount of installed solar increases;
  • Upgrading network infrastructure in Doncaster, Box Hill, Keysborough, Mornington and East Malvern as urban developments in these areas increase demand for electricity;
  • Upgrading the Burwood and Keysborough depots and replacing the Mornington facility to help improve regional service delivery;
  • Investing $129 million in net connections over the 2021-2026 period to support an estimated 55,000 new households and major infrastructure developments including rail and tunnel projects, road upgrades and the North-East Link; and
  • Investing $194 million in information and communications technology integral to all modern electricity distribution networks and offering high quality integrated services for customers.

More than 11,000 customers across United Energy and two other networks contributed to developing the proposal as part of a comprehensive stakeholder engagement program over three years.

United Energy is one of the country’s most reliable electricity networks, with power available 99.99 per cent of the year. On average, this is equivalent to 44 minutes per customer off supply each year.

AER benchmarking ranks United Energy as one of the most efficient in the National Electricity Market based on operating expenditure per customer.

Customers and stakeholders are invited to review United Energy’s Regulatory Proposal at www.talkingelectricity.com.au and to provide feedback to the AER as part of its assessment process.