FULL CHARGE: Dubbo pensioner objects to 'obscene' cost of power bills

DUBBO residents who struggle to keep up with soaring power bills have been assured the days of double-digit electricity price hikes are now behind them.

Making the pledge was chief executive officer of Networks NSW - the newly merged trio of Ausgrid, Essential Energy and Endeavour Energy - Vince Graham, but Dubbo pensioner Joan Teale said she almost had a heart attack when she received her last power bill of almost $900.

"I think it is completely out of proportion, crazy and obscene for us to pay this much for electricity," she said.

She said her household did everything it could to conserve energy, installing solar panels and insulation but were still hit hard with rising electricity prices.

After complaining to her provider, Country Energy, the department of Fair Trading and the ombudsman she said there was no explanation to why her power usage was ridiculously high.

Mrs Teale said she was "appalled and disgusted" to hear the Country Energy customer representative suggest she go to a charity for help.

"It's as if the answer for their price hike is to go to a charity," she said.

"If that was the solution, the whole of Dubbo would go to a charity because of soaring gas and electricity costs and the charity wouldn't have a cent left."

Mrs Teale was sceptical that there would be no more price hikes other than inflation.

She said the power companies would find different excuses to justify further price increases.

Dubbo and district residents had to pay 20 per cent more for electricity this year while the inflation rate was only two per cent.

Mr Graham said Networks NSW was committed to slashing $2 billion of the $14 billion spent by networks by June 2014.

"NSW has seen the last of the double-digit increases in network tariffs," he said.

"We are setting our sights for the next five years to contain network prices to CPI (consumer price index) - that's six years of keeping prices capped at CPI or below.

"That's a steely determination by the government, by the board and by the management team."

Pricing regulator, Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), believes residential electricity prices have increased by 52 per cent in the past three years alone.

Meanwhile, NSW auditor-general Peter Achterstraat said the profits of electricity companies increased by $100 million in the last financial year and power bills were rising.

abanob.saad@ruralpress.com

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop