Rural consumers to be worst-hit by increased electricity prices

Power consumers in New South Wales may be interested to note the continuing debate surrounding the recommended increases in electricity prices released by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), specifically regarding the impact on rural and regional consumers.

IPART's report suggests an average price rise of 16 per cent across the board.

Those consumers who are signed up to EnergyAustralia face the largest increase - 19.2 per cent, or $338 per year for an average household.

Country Energy customers may see a 17.6 per cent hike and Integral Energy's customers are staring down the barrel of a ten per cent increase.

Carolyn Hodge from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) is calling on the state government to offer tailored financial assistance to rural and regional customers, who she says will be the worst-hit by the price hikes.

Ms Hodge explained that those in isolated areas are using up to 10 per cent of their income to pay electricity bills, describing the situation as "an accepted definition of energy poverty".

She added that current rebates for NSW residents were not keeping up with the pressures of increased household utility prices, although the government had provided a good boost last year.

Posted by Charlie Moore