Call to tailor power rebates for regions

Financial assistance should be tailored to help those in rural and regional NSW pay for power price hikes in July, a public advocacy group says.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has recommended average electricity price increases of 16 per cent from July 1, with the introduction of the federal carbon tax and spiralling network costs to blame.

Under the draft determination, customers of EnergyAustralia face the biggest increase with a 19.2 per cent hike in prices, or $338 per year for the average household.

Country Energy customers would be slugged with a 17.6 per cent rise, while Integral Energy could hike their prices by just over 10 per cent.

Carolyn Hodge from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) told an IPART public forum that those in regional areas would be worst affected by the July 1 increase, and called on the state government to tailor assistance to meet their needs.

“People in rural, regional areas are spending over 10 per cent of their disposable income (on their bill), and what that is an accepted definition of energy poverty,” Ms Hodge, a senior policy officer at the PIAC, told reporters after the forum in Sydney on Monday.

“Increases to rebates in NSW are not always keeping up.

“We’ve had a really good increase from the government last year … but what we would also like to see is that for the most vulnerable people some bespoke type of assistance could be developed specifically for those in rural, regional areas, who are paying the highest increases this year.”

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