Coun­cils face power price hike

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

Jer­ilderie and Ber­ri­gan shire coun­cils could be slammed with a mas­sive price hike for the cost of their street light­ing.

Jer­ilderie Shire gen­eral man­ager Craig Mof­fitt says his shire is ex­pect­ing a 115 per cent in­crease, or $50,000 a year, while Ber­ri­gan Shire Coun­cil is fac­ing a 95 per cent in­crease, or $45,000 a year.

Es­sen­tial En­ergy charges Rive­rina coun­cils to run and main­tain the pub­lic light­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

In a re­cent re­port, the com­pany has pro­posed to in­crease its rev­enue for pro­vid­ing light­ing ser­vices from July next year to 2019.

Jer­ilderie Shire is one of 27 of the re­gion’s coun­cil to be af­fected by the price hike.

Mr Mof­fitt says he has never seen Es­sen­tial En­ergy pro­pose an in­crease like this be­fore and will be in­ves­ti­gat­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘We’re go­ing to find out what this is all about,’’ he said.

‘‘Coun­cils were told about it a few days ago and at this stage we don’t know a lot of de­tail.

‘‘Es­sen­tial En­ergy is say­ing it re­flects user pays and that we’ve been dis­counted for so long so now we’ll have to pay the full amount.

‘‘It’s a mas­sive in­crease and adds to the rea­son coun­cil is pro- pos­ing a rise in its rates this year.

‘‘Nat­u­rally people are against the rate in­crease but we need to find a way to bal­ance the books.’’

Ber­ri­gan Shire gen­eral man­ager Rowan Perkins says he will be pre­par­ing a sub­mis­sion against the in­crease.

‘‘We have no grounds to tech­ni­cally chal­lenge it but we will be mak­ing a sub­mis­sion,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s re­ally poor tim­ing with the losses from the Fi­nan­cial As­sis­tance Grants. The in­crease is sig­nif­i­cant.’’

In its re­port, Es­sen­tial En­ergy says it plans to in­tro­duce a new model which will bet­ter re­flect the costs of pub­lic light­ing ser­vices.

Es­sen­tial En­ergy says in the past the cost has been un­der-re­cov­ered.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the pro­posed in­creases are also in ac­cor­dance with Na­tional Elec­tric­ity Rules.

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