LOOKING AT SOLAR: George Bodill of Coraki pays a service availability charge on his electricity bill for his Coraki property that is more than double that of his property in Frenchs Forest, Sydney.
LOOKING AT SOLAR: George Bodill of Coraki pays a service availability charge on his electricity bill for his Coraki property that is more than double that of his property in Frenchs Forest, Sydney. Cathy Adams

Power supply for wealthy Sydneysiders less than half ours

CORAKI retiree George Bodill is contemplating converting his home to solar power after discovering the service availability charges on his home are more than double his Sydney property.

The former accountant crunched the numbers and said he only paid 62.8 cents a day in service availability charges for Energy Australia to supply electricity to his home in the leafy north shore Sydney suburb of Frenchs Forest.

Mr Bodill said the service availability charges to his modest Coraki residence, which is supplied by Origin Energy, worked out at $1.38 a day.

The charges relate to the cost to supply the premises with electricity, and are separate from usage costs.

Both the charges from Energy Australia and Origin Energy were in the same billing period in 2012, after some NSW energy prices increased in July.

Mr Bodill said when he contacted Origin Energy about the difference in charges he was told the increased cost was because there were fewer users of electricity in Coraki.

"Both properties are in NSW, so I believe I should be paying the same," he said.

"I cannot see why in Frenchs Forest, where the income of most families is in the order of $150,000 per year, they pay less than half the cost of supplying electricity than in the Northern Rivers, where most families struggle to earn $60,000 a year."

He believed there was a relationship between the number of solar power users and service charges.

"I believe because there is more people using solar on the Northern Rivers, the electricity company jacks up the fixed cost."

He said both of his properties had gas for cooking and the Coraki property had solar hot water, and he had gas hot water at Frenchs Forest.

"If the charges increase I am thinking of getting all the mains power cut off to my home at Coraki and getting solar with battery backup."

An Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal spokeswoman said service availability costs were regulated by the Australian Energy Regulator.

The reason country network prices are higher than metropolitan relates to the assets required to transport electricity over long distances and the relatively low customer density, she said.



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