Electricity costs too high for people with disability

A report released by PIAC and the Physical Disability
Council of NSW (PDCN) in 2012, highlights the inequity experienced by people with
disability when it comes to electricity use and pricing.

More Power To You: electricity and people with physical disability (pdf) finds that people with physical disability face four
layers of disadvantage:

  • Low incomes mean people with disability
    struggle to afford electricity
  • Disability brings additional general costs
    associated with wheelchairs and medicine
  • Disability brings additional energy costs
    associated with heating, cooling, mobility, communication and life-saving
  • Disability can inhibit peoples capacity to
    adopt energy efficiency measures.

‘There are approximately 1.1 million people in NSW with
physical disability and a substantial number of these people use electrical aids
and equipment to assist with mobility, communication, breathing and life
support,’ said the report’s author, Carolyn Hodge.

Ms Hodge, who is the Senior Policy Officer at PIAC’s Energy & Water
Consumers’ Advocacy Program, said it was often impossible for people with disability to reduce their energy consumption or switch to
off-peak supply because doing so would be life threatening.

‘Energy efficiency measures
and time-of-use pricing cannot solve the problem of rising energy prices.  PIAC and PDCN have released this report to
highlight the social impacts that rising electricity prices have on people with
physical disability,’ Ms Hodge said.

The report includes
action plans to guide government and industry on ways to reduce the disadvantage
that exists in our energy markets.

Key statistics: Read key statistics (pdf) about disability and electricity costs.

Personal stories: Breathing is no more an optional activity for Ann-Mason Furmage than it is for anyone else. But because Ms Furmage (pictured) relies on electrical equipment to help her breathe, there is little she can do to reduce her power consumption or her electricity bill. Click here to watch a video interview with Ms Furmage.

Ruth Robinson, PDCN
Executive Officer: (02) 9552 1606 or 0402541809.

Related content: Disabled can’t afford power bill, AAP, The Australian, 26 November 2012.

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