Spending power cut: Matthew Dunn, of Lismore, is struggling to keep up with his energy bills since the cost of electricity went up last year.
Spending power cut: Matthew Dunn, of Lismore, is struggling to keep up with his energy bills since the cost of electricity went up last year. David Nielsen

Electricity prices set to soar

POWER to the people, but at what cost?

Electricity prices went up 20 per cent from July 1 last year, and it’s making life tough for plenty of people in the Northern Rivers.

And there is the possibility that prices will rise by a staggering 62pc over the next three years, according to Tamworth Independent MP Peter Draper.

Australians will find out tomorrow what the future holds when a final report is released by the pricing regulator.

Retail electricity prices in NSW are set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), whose draft proposal indicates an increase in the typical annual household bill of between $550 and $890 by 2013.

In the financial year to 2010 Country Energy raised its prices by 13.41pc plus the CPI (4.35pc) for a total hike of 17.76pc.

A report from ratings agency Fitch Ratings said tomorrow’s final regulatory decision would likely present consumers with ‘significant tariff increases to cover higher network investment and an increase in the cost of new generation, particularly lower-carbon plants’.

“It is inevitable consumers will see noticeable increases in electricity bills over the next few years,” said Sajal Kishore, the report’s author.

One local who has felt the brunt of price rises is Lismore plumber Matthew Dunn.

“The bill was higher than usual and I got behind,” Mr Dunn said.

“It was going to be a bit of a struggle and this week I had to ring Country Energy to negotiate a fortnightly payment.”

He was one of 15,000 customers helped by the supplier to set up a useful payment plan, according to its regional general manager, Richard Wake.

Price rises were necessary to help fund a $4 billion investment in the network over the next five years, Mr Wake said.



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