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TASMANIANS are facing another power price shock with average annual bills set to rise by at least $50 from next year.
The rise will add to the $90 increase Aurora Energy announced in March in response to federal renewable energy targets and which will take effect from July 1.
However, the state-owned power retailer also had some brighter news for hard-pressed consumers, saying new technology and job cuts, which should begin from July, could limit power price rises from 2013.
The power price predictions on top of substantial slugs for water and sewerage bills and general cost of living rises add to pressure on the State Government as it finalises the Budget to be handed down on June 16.
Community and welfare groups say many Tasmanian families are struggling because of the steep rises in power bills over the past three years.
Liberal energy spokesman Matthew Groom said the latest power price increases would hurt Tasmanians.
Mr Groom said the Labor-Greens Government was out of touch and had failed to realise just how difficult each rise was for struggling Tasmanians.
“While the Labor-Greens Government does nothing, Tasmanians are being hit by increase after increase on their power bills,” he said.
“In contrast, the Tasmanian Liberals believe that we need competition in the energy sector so that we can put downward pressure on power prices.”
The price changes are linked to Aurora’s distribution of electricity through its poles and wires network, which accounts for about 30 per cent of power bills.
The proposed changes are awaiting approval from the Australian Energy Regulator, which received Aurora’s 2012-2017 distribution price proposal yesterday.
The total power bill, including other components such as power generation, transmission and retail, is expected to be announced next Monday.
Aurora Energy network general manager Andre Botha said the projected costs did not take into account inflation, any unforseen expenses or a carbon tax, so any projected saving on power bills, which average $2000 a year, could be annulled.
“This is about minimising the rate of increases on electricity bills, not about reducing energy bills as they are today,” he said.
Mr Botha said the initial 7.5 per cent rise in distribution costs was caused by past investment and operational costs.
But he said new technology and better efficiencies identified by the company could enable a four-year price cut of about 1 per cent, before other factors, including inflation, were considered.
“It is a huge step for the business. It involves cost savings, efficiencies and productivities that we never had because we never had access to technology. It was never cost-effective. It now is,” he said.
The AER, which will hand down its decision by April 30, will hear public comment at a community forum in Hobart on July 19.
Just take a look at the comments from the original article, you will get the feeling of how most think of this… Oh there is only one power distribution supplier within the state so there’s no option to change supplier if you are dissatisfied, this is something that most other states have the opportunity to do.
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