Premier urged to cap power prices

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell is under pressure from within the government to keep a lid on rising electricity prices.

Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser has written to Mr O’Farrell urging him not to accept the recommendation by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for an 18.1% price increase in electricity costs due to be implemented on July 1.

Mr Fraser said this recommendation would increase residential power bills between $228 to $316 per annum and business customers would face rises of $325 to $500 per annum.

Mr Fraser said he did not believe under the IPART act the Government was bound by these recommendations and, in fact, the Act clearly indicates in Sections 14, 16 and 18 that the recommendations made by IPART are maximum price determinations not minimum price determinations.

“Section 18 of the Act clearly indicates that the government and its ministers are not bound to implement recommendations from IPART,” Mr Fraser said.

“The North Coast region is one of the lowest socio-economic regions in NSW.

“Such a large increase, especially leading into winter when people will be needing electricity to heat their homes, will be devastating to many.”

Many businesses are struggling to keep their head above water and an 18.1% increase in power costs, especially for butchers, bakers and other businesses that have high power usage, could see these businesses forced to close their doors.

“In recent years the residents of the Coffs Harbour electorate have been slugged with a number of increases, such as a council flood levy, rates and waste levies, motor vehicle registrations, CTP slips, and the list goes on,” Mr Fraser said.

“Many pensioners and people on limited incomes, despite promised subsidies, will still not be able to afford any increase in their power bills.

“I would hope common sense prevails and that the IPART recommendations stay as purely recommendations and are not accepted as a minimum price recommendation.”

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