Electricity price rises threaten household finances

The Independent Regulatory and Pricing Tribunal (IPART) has recommended energy price rises that will cost some households up to $893 more per year by 2013.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) is concerned about the impact on households already facing disconnection due to an inability to pay, and about the combined impact of rising energy bills, interest rates and housing costs over the coming three years. PIAC considers electricity to be an essential service and that households should not be disconnected if they are unable to pay.

‘Energy bills are set to be a major driver increasing the cost of living in NSW. This is a time bomb that will hit all consumers, but most impact will be felt by those already struggling to make ends meet. That includes many families with mortgages, low-income households and large families. What we fear is that many of these households will be disconnected from electricity because they simply cannot afford to pay’ said Joel Pringle, Policy Officer at PIAC.

Part of this increase will be caused by the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme for which low-income and middle income households will receive some compensation, but there will still be a $594 increase that is not related to the CPRS. The CPRS compensation will not address this shortfall.

‘The NSW Government bought forward the Customer Assistance Policy after smaller increases were announced in 2009. The IPART draft report shows that these measures are totally inadequate. Too many households miss out on support, and the payments are much less than the increases in cost.’

‘The Public Interest Advocacy Centre has repeatedly warned the NSW Government that energy price increases will send many households into poverty. We now call on the new Premier, Kristina Keneally, to step in and address this issue before it gets out of hand. It is imperative that rebates are indexed to energy price rises and that eligibility is extended to all Commonwealth Health Care Card holders.’

The NSW Energy Rebate is currently indexed to the CPI, around 2-3%, whilst bills are set to rise by up to 25%.

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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