Disconnections increase after West Australia electricity price hike
Among of any state across Australia, West Australia electricity price hike the highest rate of disconnections. The worst culprit for this is the rising energy costs and slow economy propelled households whose supplies were severed.
From 9774, disconnections among electricity customers soared to 15,953. This is more than 50 percent in the 12 months to June 30, the ERA said. All because of State-owned power provider Synergy accounting for much of the rise.
Watching the West Australia electricity price hike, regulators were shocked with the data. From the lowest rate of disconnections for electricity users in 2015-16, it became the highest in Australia last year.
The ERA also noted that a growing share of the gas market was also feeling the pain. This is because the number of customers being disconnected or on installment plans are rising. According to the watchdog, the debts carried by customers whose accounts were overdue tended to be about 60 percent higher for those on hardship arrangements.
Currently, the average “bill debt” for customers behind on their electricity accounts was $384. With that in mind, ERA said it was $586 for people receiving hardship assistance.
WA Needs to Take Action
In a sign of the weakness of the West Australia electricity industry, Synergy electricity even reported a 2.8% decline in customer numbers for the first time, blaming interstate migration out of WA for the fall.
Shadow energy minister Dean Nalder said electricity retailers in Western Australia were likely to face far worse this 2018. This is because the ERA report did not take into account the flat 11% rise in power prices from July.
Mr Nalder said the fact the Government pushed ahead with the increase despite the rise in hardship was “callous”.
Energy Minister Ben Wyatt said that this is different than the former Liberal government. Labor had moved to cushion the effect of power price rises by ensuring the State’s hardship scheme was funded properly.