This submission responds to the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) Issues Paper, Review of prices for Essential Energy’s water, sewerage and other services in Broken Hill (the Issues Paper). In the submission, PIAC notes the unique challenges of supplying water to the arid region of far-western NSW, as well as the need for residents to hose down hard surfaces and grow ground cover due to the naturally-high levels of lead in the area’s soil. PIAC argues that these conditions justify the subsidy which the NSW Government has paid to Essential Water in recent years, and that this payment should, therefore, continue. PIAC also notes that the Essential Water pensioner rebate had not increased since at least 2010, and recommended the NSW Government index the rebate to increase in line with water bills. Further, PIAC recommends that Essential Water examine the possibility of introducing an emergency payment assistance scheme, as well as better promoting customer assistance and the availability of the Centrepay service. Finally, PIAC recommends that Essential Water increase its engagement with local community welfare organisations, on behalf of residential consumers.
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