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Victorians won't escape power hit

| 02.12,11. 02:15 PM |


Victorians won't escape power hit


 December 02, 2011

HUNDREDS of thousands of Victorians will struggle to escape new year power price rises even if they turn off lights and reduce appliance use.
Fixed supply charges, incurred before a single switch is turned on, will explode by up to 34 per cent and hit more than $400 a year for some homes from January 1.

TRUenergy and AGL have joined Origin in passing on electricity and gas increases. Others will follow.

The retailers blame higher wholesale and distributors' network charges, and the cost of government green energy target schemes.

St Vincent de Paul Society analysis for the Herald Sun reveals a typical family faces overall power bill increases of up to 13 per cent - and will pay up to $155 a year extra for electricity alone or combined electricity and gas.

Amid the looming pain, Origin boss Grant King said "the electricity bill for the average Australian household is about equal to the cost of a cup of coffee a day''.

Mr King, who was giving an unrelated industry speech in Sydney yesterday, said energy prices were a very sensitive public issue in Australia despite lower costs than other countries.

Origin sources said the company's electricity rises were below that of major rivals.

The retailers' rises are for standard contracts, usually the most expensive available. Similar percentage increases are expected for discounted market contracts.

Energy analyst Gavin Dufty urged consumers to carefully shop around for a deal that suited their lifestyle.

Some companies focused on higher fixed supply fees, disadavantaging low users.

Others substantially raised kilowatt-per-hour consumption rates.

"You should treat your energy bills like a smoke alarm battery - have a look at it every year,'' Mr Dufty said.

Mr Dufty said fixed supply charges would jump 15-34 per cent in Melbourne's inner and outer east, sandbelt and Mornington Peninsula; 12-20 per cent in the inner west and north; 14-27 per cent in the inner CBD; 15-28 per cent in the state's regional and rural west; and 10-16 per cent in the state's regional and rural east and north.

Changes in consumption fees also varied depending on the area and retailer.

He called on retailers to be more consistent and transparent about the true impact of price changes for different customers.

State energy Minister Michael O'Brien said the Government would continue to advocate for more effective scrutiny of federally regulated network and metering charges.

"We are also ensuring the highest possible competitiveness among Victorian energy retailers and supporting enhanced price disclosure arrangements through the website to enable consumers to choose the best retail deal,'' he said.

Shadow Minister for Energy and Cost of Living Lily D'Ambrosio accused the Baillieu Government of breaking an election promise to keep utility costs low.

"The Baillieu Government's one year achievement document released this week lists as a key Energy and Resource achievement 'lobbying the Australian Energy
Regulator on behalf of all Victorians to demand that network pricing decisions are fair and in the best interests of the community," Ms D'Ambrosio said.

"Mr O'Brien needs to explain how today's price rise is "fair and in the best interests" of working families who will now have to pay between $100 and $150 more for electricity and gas each year.

"It highlights how desperate this 'do nothing' Government is to look like it is doing something to keep the cost of living pressures down."

Herald Sun

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