Inquiry into energy prices good news for households

TasCOSS is pleased to see the Legislative Council’s Inquiry into Energy Prices in Tasmania, given the supply of energy is an essential service but its cost is unaffordable for more and more Tasmanian households.

TasCOSS CEO, Ms Adrienne Picone, said the announcement was good news for households.

“Since 1 July 2022, electricity prices in Tasmania have increased 22.5%, far exceeding the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and wages growth over the same period, which have risen by 5.5% and 3.9% respectively,” Ms Picone said.

“With one-in-four households already unable to afford the cost of living, adding around $428 to the annual bill of a residential customer with median usage is a shock to Tasmanians attempting to budget week-to-week. As a result, we’ve seen a spike in energy debt, with greater financial pressure and increased hardship for Tasmanian households.

“While 140,000 Tasmanian households are eligible to receive the $250 energy bill relief payments that are being rolled-out, there are still more than 100,000 households that have not received any energy bill relief but have been burdened with price increases much greater than CPI and wage increases, in addition to other cost of living pressures.”

Ms Picone said TasCOSS has been calling for more direct intervention from the Tasmanian Government by capping electricity prices as part of a broader strategy to combat rising energy costs in the short-term, reviewing the electricity concession scheme to ensure it is well targeted and appropriate, and bringing down energy bills in the long-term through a significant investment in household energy efficiency initiatives that targets low income and rental households. 

“We look forward to the Inquiry reporting on the benefits to Tasmanian customers of a cap on electricity prices in 2018 and why the Government has retained the ability to reintroduce a price cap to protect consumers from price hikes, but has not done so,” she said.

“The reluctance to reduce price increases is having a profound impact on Tasmanian households. The number of households with an energy debt has increased by 27% in the past year, Aurora Energy has reported a 12% increase in the number of customers accessing its YES (energy hardship support) program in the last six months, and we have heard from our own consultations that Tasmanians have been making insidious choices between keeping their home warm over winter and forgoing other essentials, such as skipping meals and accessing necessary health care, in order to pay their energy bills.”