POWER generator EnergyAustralia - formerly TRUenergy - has suffered a 10 per cent slide in power sales as rising electricity prices have prompted lower use and as more home owners install solar panels.
The slide in demand resulted in a steep fall in earnings in Australia, down 42.1 per cent to $HK1.68 billion ($210 million) in 2012. As a result, it plans to refrain from new investment in Australia.
"During 2012 we witnessed a decline of electricity usage across our customer base," the company's Hong Kong parent, China Light and Power, said.
"In our predominantly Victorian customer base we saw a decline of around 10 per cent in average mass market electricity consumption from 6.5 megawatt hours in 2011 to 5.8 MWhs in 2012."
Higher retail electricity prices, along with energy efficiency, the weather and greater penetration of residential solar photovoltaic were all blamed for the slump in demand.
The profit slide "was caused by a combination of factors, including reduced customer demand, suppressed wholesale electricity prices, higher operating costs and higher fair value loss on energy contracts," CLP said.
During 2012, EnergyAustralia shelved plans to raise funds on Australia's financial markets via a sharemarket listing because of weak power demand. Reduced demand also forced it to idle one of the four generators at its Yallourn power station for part of last year.
Yallourn can supply about a quarter of Victoria's demand for electricity.
Flooding at the power station also restricted output last winter, with the financial cost of the flooding put at $144 million.
Stronger summer demand has prompted the restart of the idled generator this year.