No interest rate rise but electricity prices skyrocket

Today’s draft determination by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal that retail prices increase more than 20% over 3 years has been slammed by NSW welfare and consumer groups.

This decision falls short of meeting the needs of NSW consumers and puts the profitability of energy retailers ahead of the affordability of essential energy needs in the community.

“This determination is about increasing profits for energy retailers at any cost.” said Elissa Freeman, Senior Policy Officer, Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

“Price increases designed to stimulate competition place an unfair burden on our most vulnerable consumers. Today’s decision punishes consumers who have elected to remain on a regulated tariff or have been unable to find a better offer “ she added.

The NSW Government asked the regulator to consider measures to increase the level of competition in the retail energy market. Yet, for the first time ever the NSW Government failed to require the regulator to consider the impacts on customers.

“The IPART determination fails to consider that energy is an essential service, and one becoming increasingly out of the reach of low income earners” said Ms Michelle Burrell, Acting Director, Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS).

Last year, disconnections due to non-payment pay rose by 25% to 26,872 households in NSW alone.

“Today’s announcement will make it even more difficult for struggling families to make ends meet” said Ms Burrell.

Today’s determination puts greater competition ahead of efficient price levels.

“Last year complaints to the ombudsman about marketing misconduct increased 258%. Energy retailers are misleading customers and targeting vulnerable consumers. Is this the competitive market the NSW Government is seeking to encourage?” asked Ms Freeman.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,

Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169

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