HOUSEHOLDS at Dubbo experience some of the highest levels of electricity disconnections in NSW, new data estimates.
The city was ranked sixth on a list of the state's top 50 hotspots, in research commissioned by the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Among rural and regional postcodes in four states, Dubbo had the second-most number of customers disconnected more than once during a three-year period to July 2015, the research shows.
When several households in a centre have multiple disconnections, they are arguably communities with "entrenched poverty or ongoing financial hardship", the 'Households in the Dark' report contests.
The project analysed and mapped about 200,000 electricity disconnections for non-payment raised by AGL in South Australia, Victoria, NSW and south-east Queensland between July 2012 and July 2015.
The data set was then normalised based on AGL's market share to gain insight into customers of all retailers.
The report showed high disconnection numbers in several rural and regional areas in NSW in comparison to other jurisdictions.
Dubbo was estimated to have 338 customers who were cut off twice in the three-year period, second only to Orange with 477 in a list of rural and regional centres.
Dubbo also appeared on the list of postcodes where 50 customers or more were disconnected three times, ranked 13th.
The St Vincent de Paul Society's Gavin Dufty said the withdrawal of an essential service like electricity had a huge impact.
"When a house is disconnected, it's the whole family (that is affected) including kids," he said.
Households could become socially isolated, the society's social policy manager said.
There could be extra costs to re-stock fridges, and heating, cooling and hot water would all be lost, Mr Dufty said.
"It's quite devastating on households," he said.
The report made a number of recommendations including a call for the NSW government to introduce percentage-based concessions and review its Energy Accounts Payment Assistance scheme.
"Relying on delivery of EAPA vouchers through community welfare agencies limits the scheme's coverage and more assistance in rural and regional NSW is clearly needed," the report says.
AGL supported and collaborated on research reports such as 'Households in the Dark', a spokesperson for the retailer said.
"This report will influence the way we undertake community outreach, with better targeting of energy savings technologies such as solar PV and the distribution of energy literacy information to ensure customers are aware of the available support," the spokesperson said.