POWER SURGE: Alan Doohan, of South Lismore, with his children 15-month-old Jellian and Mary, 3, has been hit with higher power bills despite reducing his usage.
POWER SURGE: Alan Doohan, of South Lismore, with his children 15-month-old Jellian and Mary, 3, has been hit with higher power bills despite reducing his usage. Jacklyn Wagner

Family hit by higher power (bills)

FATHER of two Alan Doohan has tried to do the right thing and use less power in his three-bedroom home in South Lismore.

A solar heat pump was installed three months ago, and even with loads of washing to do for children Mary and Jellian, he is aware of keeping power usage down to save money.

Unfortunately his latest power bill from Country Energy does not reflect his efforts to reduce energy costs.

“I'm using less power but getting higher bills,” Mr Doohan said.

His October bill showed his household electricity consumption cost $2.49 a day.

The same time last year he was paying $2.37 a day.

Given that he had installed a solar pump, Mr Doohan was expecting his bill to be significantly lower.

It is a problem across the North Coast with electricity prices soaring this winter, causing hardship among the region's battlers and prompting many to switch their suppliers.

John Nelson, of Byron Bay, who lives with a housemate in a unit in the Arts and Industrial Estate, said the bill for the quarter was $1260 - a staggering increase over the previous quarter's $400.

And that $400 included an 'industrial' tariff which Country Energy had agreed was mistakenly added and would be removed for the residential unit, Mr Nelson said.

Country Energy's Regional general manager, Richard Wake, acknowledged there had been an increase in electricity prices recently, which worked out to be 'about 20 per cent for mums and dads'.

The increases had been approved by the regulators, he said, and was a result of increased costs in the wholesale price of electricity, which was caused by higher fuel costs and the drought.

Plus, he said, Country Energy, like other state-owned distributors, had embarked on a five-year program to expand and upgrade its network, and the increases were needed to fund things like the installation of heavier wires and to provide alternatives networks during storms.



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