As part of their annual review of regulated electricity retail prices, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) Draft Decision is that consumers are likely to face price rises of between 16.4% and 18.1% on 1 July 2011. The final decision is due mid-June and if it reflects decisions announced in Draft the highest price rises will again be felt by those in Country Energy’s supply area.
PIAC has real concerns for low-income and vulnerable electricity consumers who are facing difficulty staying connected to this essential service at current pricing levels. In a submission to IPART, PIAC has recommended that more be done to understand rural and regional consumers so that targeted support can be delivered in these areas. PIAC has also recommended that existing supports be expanded and strengthened so they are best able to assist consumers face these large rises. Finally, in order to inhibit the growth of energy poverty, PIAC has recommended that IPART is resourced to investigate options to introduce a social tariff. A social tariff could see low-income and vulnerable consumers pay a reduced rate for their electricity – shielding them from sharp and regular price rises.