Peter Jean June 30, 2012
Gas pipe. Photo: James Davies
When Canberra residents turn on their gas heaters and stoves tomorrow they'll be creating a tax liability for ActewAGL.
The energy company is the only organisation in the ACT that will be directly liable for the carbon price which begins on July 1 and is aimed at big emitters of greenhouse gases.
Emissions which occur when natural gas is produced at Moomba in South Australian and Longford Victoria, sent to the ACT and finally used by customers will all attract a carbon price.
ActewAGL general manager retails Ayesha Razzaq said natural gas emissions occurred from the point of production.
''Then there's haulage - that's the pipeline that comes from either South Australia or Victoria,'' she said.
''There's losses and fugitive emissions incurred on that pipeline.
''Then that gas goes through the AGL distribution network [the pipes] once it enters Canberra and then finally when it enters the person's house and they turn on the gas stove or heater - that's where the gas is combusted and that's where the largest emissions are.''
The cost of purchasing emissions permits will be passed on to natural gas customers through price increases of about $1.65 a week.
ActewAGL will not have to purchase permits for electricity related-emissions. Generators will be liable for the emissions but will pass this cost on to ActewAGL through higher wholesale prices.
This in turn will result in higher bills for retail customers of about $4.19 a week.
The government has begun providing families and individuals with compensation to help meet increased prices linked to carbon pricing.
Ms Razzaq said ActewAGL had been preparing to meet its obligations to acquire and surrender permits to emit carbon gases since clean energy laws were approved last year.
''We're all ready to go and to comply with these regulations,'' she said.
Organisations responsible for the emission of more than 25,000 tonnes each year of CO2 equivalent emissions will have to pay the carbon price.
Pricing carbon is designed to create incentives to reduce carbon emissions and adopt ''cleaner'' alternatives.
From 2015, the fixed price for carbon permits will be replaced by an emissions trading scheme with prices set by the market.
Chris Peters, chief executive of the ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said all local businesses would face increases in costs as a result of the carbon tax but the extent of this would not be clear for at least six months.
''Everything business buys will go up, '' he said.
''And it will be right across the board for every input into the business.
''Consumers will be assisted by government welfare payments but business is not.
''Business will have to pass on those cost increases to their customers who will end up wearing the extra cost.''
The federal government has introduced a range of measures to assist business to deal with the additional costs linked to the carbon tax.
These include an increase in the business asset write-off to $6500 and advice on how to become more energy efficient.