In March 2008, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of NSW (IPART) released its draft report and draft determination reviewing prices charged by Sydney Water for water, sewerage, stormwater and other services. Rises in prices were partly due to the building of a new desalination plant. PIAC supported IPART’s decision to remove inclining block tariffs (although expressing concerns about IPART’s reasons) and to reject the imposition of new charges for late payments and for payments made by credit card. PIAC expressed concerns about increases to prices (particularly to service charges) and the removal of the large household rebate; both of which were likely to disproportionately impact on low-income households. Acknowledging Sydney Water’s inclusive concessions scheme, PIAC recommended further extensions to the scheme to assist households that were likely to suffer price shock. Further recommendations addressed how price increases may be determined relative to water consumption forecasts and the need for a review into the environmental and consumer cost implications of different operating arrangements for the desalination plant.
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