6 July 2012 – Debate is raging on whether the carbon tax is causing the cost of refrigerants to soar, or whether refrigerant companies are using the opportunity to hike up their prices.

Federal Industry opposition spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella blames the carbon tax saying refrigerant R404A, widely used in industrial and supermarket refrigeration, will increase from $92.88 per kilogram to $377.71 per kilogram.

“In yet another unpleasant carbon tax surprise, the price of refrigerant is set to dramatically increase, slugging food manufacturers, the transport industry, supermarkets and grocers, and, ultimately,” she said.

But Climate Change Minister Greg Combet believes refrigerant companies are “evil price gouging” with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission looking into the issue.

The ACCC has already moved no two solar panel companies in relation to carbon price claims.

Mr Combet said one Sydney-based refrigerant company had raised the price of R404A from $75 per kilogram to $285 per kilogram.

Another refrigerant supplier, selling R22 which has no carbon price attached to it, has lifted prices by more than $60 a kilogram, he said.

An Australian Government fact sheet says the effect of the carbon tax on refrigeration products used by the average consumer is “generally small”.

“For example, the price of a domestic refrigerator would increase by around $4 as a result of the equivalent carbon price,” the fact sheet says.

“The cost of re-gassing the airconditioning in a car would increase by around $18.

“Refrigerated goods like milk, fruit and vegetables are expected to go up by just 0.4 per cent under a carbon price – and this includes the impact on refrigeration and increased electricity costs.

“This is part of the total increase in food prices which is predicted by the Treasury to average less than $1 per week for an average household.

“This compares to average household assistance of $10.10 per week.”

Meanwhile, the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating has called for the federal government to assist with an expansion of training and education implemented in its industry in conjunction with the carbon price in order to avoid a failure of the energy efficiency market.

See our article AIRAH calls for more training and education in wake of carbon price