Hunter Water submitted its proposed pricing structure to IPART as part of the next price determination process. During the present price determination period Hunter Water has implemented Centrepay to help customers manage their bills and has identified community outreach programs to implement this price period. PIAC welcomes the use of Centrepay and advise Hunter Water to roll out the customer engagement and outreach programs as soon as possible. Hunter Water has proposed changes to the water service charge, wastewater service charge and no changes to the water usage price. In total there will be no real impact on residents of freestanding houses and pensioners. However, residents of apartments will see a real increase in bills. PIAC is concerned that these price changes are not efficient, given the current economic climate and the inclusion of infrastructure projects that have not been approved in the economic analysis of the operating and capital expenditure. In addition, PIAC is concerned by the unbalanced nature of the increase, with residents of apartments facing an increase in bills while residents of freestanding houses are not. Finally, PIAC has made comment on matters that have arisen as part of the Sydney Water price determination in terms of service charge terminology and regulatory changes. PIAC supports changes to the service charge to improve customer understanding have made recommendation for three preferred terms, fixed charge, water network charge or distribution charge. With regard to the regulatory changes, see PIACs submission to the Sydney Water price determination. PIAC welcomes these opportunities to comment on the price determination of the major water retailers in NSW.
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