Cost of living Energy prices

Rising energy prices

21 July 2018

My adjournment matter this evening is for the attention of the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the action that I seek is that she immediately take action to address the escalating energy crisis facing Victorians. In November 2016 the Premier told Victorians that the closure of Hazelwood would not see energy bills increase by more than 85 cents a week, but as we have now seen, and as confirmed by the Australian Energy Regulator, wholesale energy prices have increased by 85 per cent since Hazelwood closed, and businesses and individuals across my electorate are really bearing the brunt of that pressure.

Cooinda, a not-for-profit aged-care home in Benalla, has a 100-kilowatt solar system to assist with their energy costs. Despite that, they have seen a 300 per cent increase in their usage charge and a 40 per cent increase in their overall energy costs in the last year alone. With peak rates up by 250 per cent and off-peak rates up by 275 per cent, the increases have taken their energy costs almost back to where they were before they installed a solar system.

A major employer in Benalla, Schneider Electric, has seen a price increase of 124 per cent between the first quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of this year, with a 35 per cent increase in usage. Elise Adams, who owns the Prince of Wales Hotel in Seymour, is facing increases in energy costs that are putting a major strain on her business. Her gas bill has increased from around $400 a quarter to $1350, and her electricity bill has increased by more than $1000 a month. Similarly, Sue O'Keefe of O'Keefe's IGA in Seymour has been landed with increases that are seeing her pay $1500 more each month. Those increases of course are flowing through to people in everyday living costs. It increases the cost of food — it is not just their energy bills. These increases are not being matched by an increase in customers for Sue or offset by any incentives. Businesses are simply expected to come up with the money to foot the bills.

Individuals and families are also facing significant increases in gas and energy bills. In speaking with pensioners in my electorate about their bills, it is obvious how much time and energy they are spending phoning energy companies to question bills and see if there is a better deal available. Some people are having to choose between having a warm dinner or a warm home. That is the reality now of the situation we are living in.

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