ELECTRICITY prices are set to soar by even more than expected, with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) announcing that the average price rise after 1 July will be 18 per cent, two percentage points higher than predicted.
Energy Australia customers will face the highest rise of 20.6 per cent and see about $7 added to their weekly bill.
Integral Energy customers will see an average of $4 extra a week on their bills (an increase of 11.8 per cent) while Country Energy customers can expect to pay an extra $8.21 per week, meaning most rural households are facing a rise of up to 19.7 per cent.
IPART says around half the increase is due to the increasing costs of the poles and wires, and the differences between the companies are primarily due to varying network charges.
Importantly, IPART determines the average price to be charged by retailers to customers. Energy companies then determine how these increases are applied across different customers so some may see higher or lower rises.
Other electricity companies are also expected to have price rises but are no longer regulated by IPART and are based on market contracts.
While customers on market contracts pay an unregulated price, these are often influenced by changes in the regulated prices.
But before you rush off to switch electricity companies, it’s important to remember that sometimes that discount deal isn’t what it seems.
You need to shop around carefully, not only making sure that there are no exit fees to your current contract but also to check the price per kilowatt hour.
If you’re unsure about whether you’re getting the best deal, go to the My Energy Offers website at www.myenergyoffers.nsw.gov.au or call 1300 136 888.
We will see the average household bill go up by between $208 and $427 a year but the Low Income Energy Rebate is being increased by just $15.
There have long been criticisms that pensioner concessions have not kept up with the pace of price increases, so essentials have become less affordable for many pensioners and low-income earners.
That’s why CPSA is calling for IPART to be given the role of setting rebates. Because they’re an independent body, they’re in a better position to review the Low Income Energy Rebate and other rebates.
It would be great to see rebates determined without a political agenda.
It’s important to consider household income as well as the location of the household and that’s not something that is currently taken into account with most assistance measures.
People on low incomes in country areas can pay up to $500 more on their bills, yet receive the same rebate amount as those in cities.
It’s not only electricity prices that are set to go up dramatically. Gas prices are also due to rise, by between 9 and 15 per cent across NSW.
In more promising news, Sydney Water price rises will be below inflation, so households will be better off in real terms. But apartment dwellers will suffer extra pain as water service charges for apartments are being brought into line with houses – a $134 increase over the next four years compared to $72 for houses.
Yet IPART chairman Dr Peter Boxall has said that pensioners will largely escape the price rise with their bills expected to go up by about $1 a year plus inflation.