Power firms ‘ ex­ploit­ing’ re­gion

Shock­ing state of af­fairs

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHAR­LIE PEEL char­lie. peel@ news. com. au

NORTH Queens­lan­ders are pay­ing the sec­ond- high­est elec­tric­ity bills in the coun­try amid claims res­i­dents are be­ing ex­ploited by power com­pa­nies.

The claims from the Al­liance of Elec­tric­ity Con­sumers come less than a week af­ter the group sub­mit­ted a re­port to the Aus­tralian Energy Reg­u­la­tor high­light­ing ar­eas where costs could be saved.

Townsville En­ter­prise eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment gen­eral man­ager Tracey Lines said it was es­sen­tial that the gov­ern­ment did what suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments have failed to do and ad­dress es­ca­lat­ing prices.

“Our re­gion ( North Queens­land) pays the high­est prices for elec­tric­ity in the coun­try, sec­ond to Pil­bara ( in Western Aus­tralia),” she said.

“It hurts ev­ery sec­tor of the econ­omy and com­mu­nity.

“TEL rep­re­sents 382 busi­nesses and just about ev­ery one says their main strug­gles come back to high prices of en-

One of the

big­gest things the State Gov­ern­ment can

do to drive eco­nomic growth

to ease the elec­tric­ity bur­den

TRACEY LINES

ergy and how fast it’s been ris­ing.

“It scares in­vest­ment, re­duces con­fi­dence and slows eco­nomic growth be­cause of un­cer­tainty.

“One of the big­gest things the State Gov­ern­ment can do to drive eco­nomic growth is to ease the elec­tric­ity bur­den.”

Townsville teacher Allan Pilcher said his fam­ily had to tighten their belt to keep up with elec­tric­ity prices.

“It’s def­i­nitely made a dif­fer­ence on monthly house­hold re­pay­ments,” he said.

“It means we have to cut back on other things like en­ter­tain­ment, gro­ceries and sport­ing com­mit­ments for the kids.”

AEC spokesman Jonathan Pavetto said Queens­lan­ders paid nearly $ 600 more than they should on the “poles and wires” com­po­nent of their elec­tric­ity bills, while small busi­nesses were be­ing slugged $ 2000 too much ev­ery year.

He blamed decade- long rises on in­flated debt and eq­uity costs, in­ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tional ex­pen­di­ture, the legacy cost of the 44 cent so­lar feed- in tar­iff, and net­work gold plat­ting.

“Townsville in par­tic­u­lar has a lot of heavy in­dus­try ... the State Gov­ern­ment act­ing to re­duce prices would ben­e­fit Townsville prob­a­bly more than any­where else in the state,” Mr Pavetto said.

Energy and Wa­ter Sup­ply Min­is­ter Mark Bai­ley said the AEC “over­looked the fact that av­er­age Queens­land house­hold power bills are ex­pected to fall by about 0.5 per cent dur­ing this fi­nan­cial year”.

“This is welcome re­lief to Queens­lan­ders who en­dured a 43 per cent in­crease in av­er­age power bills dur­ing three years of LNP rule,” Mr Bai­ley said.

is

Pic­ture: WES­LEY MONTS

TURNED OFF: Allan Pilcher, his wife Sue and chil­dren Jasper, 9, and Si­enna, 7, are feel­ing the ef­fects of ris­ing elec­tric­ity prices.

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