Thursday, 16 June 2022 15:35

Western Sydney families crushed by staggering energy bills Featured

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The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), representing councils in Greater Western Sydney, is urging the NSW and Federal Governments to work with the Australian Energy Council to address a mounting energy cost crisis now devastating Western Suburbs households, including hundreds-of-thousands of low-income families.

“As gas and electricity prices soar, some 207,000 households in Greater Western Sydney are dependent on pitifully inadequate government energy rebates which have left families struggling to pay their bills,” said WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert.

“The Australian Energy Regulator has foreshadowed New South Wales residential electricity price increases of between 8.5% and 18.3% commencing 1 July this year, but WSROC has been contacted by local families who have been slapped with electricity rate increases of more than 50% — and gas price increases of 200%.

“According to research conducted by the Canstar financial comparison site, the average annual electricity bill for NSW families is presently $1,424.

“A 50% increase would see a typical yearly household peak usage electricity bill rocket to over $2,100 — up over $700. One supplier has increased its off-peak tariff by 261%.

“Families are also facing increased charges for gas, with the winter gas usage tariff in some cases being more than doubled.

“Yet, the current Low Income Household Electricity Rebate is just $285, and the maximum Family Energy Rebate is a miserly $180.

“Do the maths. The maximum Family Energy Rebate would be wiped out nearly four times over by a 50% increase in electricity charges,” said Councillor Calvert.

“Similarly, the current $200 per year Seniors Energy Rebate and other government Energy Social Program rebates are wholly inadequate to help low-income households deal with the worsening household energy cost crisis.

“WSROC is urging the NSW and Federal Governments to work with the Australian Energy Council and energy regulators to increase investment in new energy production capacity and for the NSW Government to review the Energy Social Program rebates as a matter of urgency.”

“At very least, the Energy Social Program rebates should be doubled or tripled to help families keep up with energy costs.

Councillor Calvert said that while general inflation is playing a big part in the energy crisis, the Australian Energy Regulator also points to significant rises in wholesale electricity costs over the past year caused by:

  • reductions in thermal (fossil-fuel based) generation resulting from unplanned outages
  • higher coal and gas prices due to global instability
  • slowing of investment in new capacity (e.g. investment in renewables and battery storage) and,
  • increasingly ‘peaky’ demand (sharp highs and lows)

“Ordinary families in Greater Western Sydney are struggling already with record petrol prices, unprecedented grocery costs, unaffordable housing and sluggish wage growth,” said Councillor Calvert.

“They didn’t cause the current energy supply crisis. Government, the energy market regulators and energy suppliers have a moral responsibility to those being most severely affected by soaring energy costs.”

“This is not just a crisis of winter warming, either.  It will become a crisis of summer cooling, soon, with summer temperatures increasing peak demand.

“At the household level, urban heat is making people sick, it is hitting hip pockets, and it’s destroying quality of life.

Last modified on Thursday, 16 June 2022 15:53

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