Low income electricity customers need protection from price shock

The State Liberals are calling on the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to substantially increase the threshold amount a customer can owe an energy retailer before their gas or electricity can be disconnected because the size of customers’ bills is growing rapidly.

“South Australian households are facing surging electricity prices that will result in ever greater numbers of households being disconnected,” said Shadow Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

“The current $300 threshold is already too low with South Australians suffering from the highest electricity prices in the nation and having the highest number of households disconnected for failing to pay their electricity bill.

“With AGL increasing its average household bill by $228 this year, Origin Energy by $117 and Energy Australia by $261, an increase of the threshold at which a customer can be disconnected is needed.

“Hundreds of thousands of South Australians are barely making ends meet and greater protection from disconnection is needed to prevent households suffering the pain of having their power cut off.

“The ever increasing size of households’ bills, the likelihood of South Australians to have their electricity and gas cut off is growing during one of our wettest and coldest winters.”

- SA has the highest number of electricity customers with debt per 100 customers: SA = 3.88 per 100 customers/ National Average = 2.73 per 100 customers

- SA has the highest number of electricity customers on a hardship program per 100 customers: SA = 1.75 per 100 customers / National Average = 0.93 per 100 customers

- SA has the highest number of electricity customers disconnected for non-payment per 100 customers: SA = 0.335 per 100 customers / National Average = 0.20 per 100 customers

“All South Australians are paying the price of the Weatherill Government’s failed energy policies with the most expensive power in the NEM and that impacts most severely on the poorest members of our community,” said Mr van Holst Pellekaan

“The Weatherill Government’s over-zealous rush into wind farms without associated large scale battery storage is directly responsible for the surging price of electricity in South Australia and it must act to protect households from the devastating effects of disconnection.”