Power prices warning to consumers

Consumers have been warned that household power bills could jump
again next year after a new review of electricity prices.

Electricity retailers will reveal their bids for prices for the next three
years this Friday in the next stage of a review by the Independent Pricing
and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). The Public Interest Advocacy Centre
(PIAC) has been closely watching energy and water prices and says NSW
households should expect the cost of essential services to keep rising.

‘Some households already are seeing 20-30% rises in the cost of
electricity’, said Jim Wellsmore, PIAC Senior Policy Officer, ‘and this
review could mean another 10-20% rise over the next couple of years’.

Along with many Australian states, NSW is moving to a less regulated
energy industry with more competition alleged to bring benefits for

‘Governments want to start lifting all controls on electricity prices just
when we see the greatest pressure for higher and higher prices’ said
PIAC’s Jim Wellsmore. ‘Competition in energy actually means higher
prices for most households’.

Prices for electricity in NSW have been rising along with those for water
and other goods and services. A review of gas prices will follow the
electricity review and PIAC says there is a risk the burden on some
consumers will become too great.

The terms for the review were set by the NSW Government. IPART has
argued those terms allow it to ignore the effect of large price rises on
residential customers. PIAC has written to the NSW Minister for Energy,
the Hon. Joe Tripodi, calling for him to require IPART to take account of
affordability for vulnerable consumers.

IPART will hold a public forum as part of the review from 9:30 tomorrow.
A draft decision is due shortly after next year’s State election.

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