Complaints down but gas disconnections on the nose

COMPLAINTS to the Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW have fallen almost across the board on the North Coast.

Kyogle was the only local government area in the region to record an increase in complaints (9.26%) last financial year.

Despite the improved results, gas disconnections across NSW shot up by 54% as households struggled to meet higher costs.

The energy watchdog's annual report revealed it received 30,402 complaints in 2014-15, down 19% on the previous year.

But acting state Opposition Leader Linda Burney said the surge in residential gas disconnections from 4921 in 2013-14 to 7555 last year proved customers were finding it tough to meet their debts.

The number of gas customers on hardship payment plans also jumped by 63% over the year.

"These figures indicate that those facing affordability issues have increasing need for assistance through payment plans and hardship programs," the report stated.

"At EWON this year we referred nearly three times as many customers to their provider's hardship team for assistance as we did in 2013-14."

Ms Burney blamed the Liberal-Nationals for failing to bring down energy prices.

"The Baird Government has no sympathy for living costs," she said.

"They are already in court challenging the independent regulator's ruling on energy, trying to push the cost of power up for customers."

The average annual gas bill for NSW homes increased from $827 to $923 over the year. 

ENERGY COMPLAINTS 2014-15

Kyogle - 59 (+9.26%)

Richmond Valley - 103 (-8.85%)

Nambucca - 98 (-15.52%)

Coffs Harbour - 274 (-17.72%)

Clarence Valley - 207 (-30.54%)

Tweed - 363 (-33.52%)

Ballina - 145 (-37.5%)

Lismore - 168 (-40.64%)

Byron - 119 (-43.6%)

Bellingen - 34 (-53.42%)



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