Shock in electricity bills

Hunter energy consumers will officially feel the sting of 20.6per cent increase in their power bills from July 1, after the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal signed off on its final electricity price increase.

Yesterday’s decision allows for an average price increase of 18per cent across NSW (including inflation) primarily as a result of rising network costs and the introduction of the carbon price.

Locally, EnergyAustralia customers will pay an extra $7 a week or $364 a year based on an average residential customer bill.

The region’s small business customers are expected to pay an additional $9.07 a week or $472 annually.

Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Kristen Keegan said the skyrocketing electricity prices are being driven by government, the introduction of the carbon tax and a reluctance to reform the electricity network.

‘‘Small businesses across the region will be in for a shock from July 1 when their energy bills will start to jump through the roof and half of this spike will be solely because of the introduction of the carbon tax,’’ Ms Keegan said.

She said federal and state governments and energy regulators need to work together and act decisively to reform electricity network regulation and ownership, to help keep electricity prices from skyrocketing further.

IPART chairman Dr Peter Boxall said the tribunal is concerned about ongoing cost increases and has outlined a number of recommendations aimed at improving the future affordability of electricity.

‘‘We would like to ensure that the electricity industry works for the long-term interests of customers,’’ he said.

‘‘Around half of the increase in NSW electricity prices from July 1 is because of the continuing rise in costs faced by the retailers from the electricity network, or the poles and wires,’’ Dr Boxall said.

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