#1 "green energy" forcing families into povertySonnabendGuest10-07-2010, 08:23 AM
Victoria's electricity, water and gas bills set to rise
THE triple whammy of soaring electricity, gas and water costs follows years of financial pain already biting into budgets across the state. A Herald Sun investigation has found typical households are paying a staggering $900 more for the essentials compared with 2005. The blowout is forcing some to cut back on fresh food and skip doctor visits when they are sick.
Electricity and water bills are up an average 45 to 60 per cent. Gas is 20 per cent higher. Thousands of struggling customers are seeking payment extensions to cope with the crippling costs. And industry experts warn it will only get worse.
Ben Freund, of price comparison service GoSwitch, said that electricity costs were set to explode over the next five years as governments forced companies to commit to more expensive forms of green energy such as solar and wind power, and homes overflowed with power-hungry appliances.
"The increase in the price of electricity will not just affect power bills but the entire cost of living," he said. "It will impact the price of groceries from the supermarket and the price of a takeaway coffee. "The causes are necessary and expensive upgrades to the network as well as environmental programs and mandatory renewable energy targets imposed by state and federal governments."
Analysts are tipping power bills to rise at least 10 per cent next year. That's $120-$170 extra for an average household. The hip-pocket hit will be less severe for those on market contracts or who shop around for the best deals. Conservative estimates put the rise for gas at 5 per cent, or $50 more for a standard home on a basic tariff. The Herald Sun review found annual utility bills have jumped up to six times faster than inflation in some parts of Victoria.
Water bills have ballooned because of the drought and major project costs including the Wonthaggi desalination plant. Exclusive modelling by the state's utilities watchdog, the Essential Services Commission, predicts annual water bills in Melbourne will surge by at least $70 after the next approved price rise flows through from July 1 next year.
Increases of up to 10 per cent are locked in for next financial year to fund the State Government's water infrastructure, designed to secure future supplies. Bill rises in country Victoria will range from at least $8 in the Lower Murray region to $88 in Wannon Water's area. Victorian Council of Social Service chief Cath Smith said surging utility bills were being deeply felt across the community.
"It's noticeable by all - even those who are better off - because the prices of other luxuries or items such as fridges, cars, airline tickets and flatscreen TVs have gone down," Ms Smith said. "Suddenly, instead, everyone is having to devote more of their income to the basic essentials."
Greenies don't like that idea, so they kick and scream and screech and protest and the Government caves to these lunatics. Greenies would like nothing better than to see us all in caves, freezing and starving to death
Ms Smith said skyrocketing bills, especially for electricity, were hitting low-income households hard, along with pensioners and the jobless. "We know some people are sacrificing on fresh food and health because of utility and rent rises," she said. "They won't go to a doctor because of gap fees, or will share prescriptions among family members."
People desperately needed a boost to pensions and concession payments to deal with the cost crisis, she said. Energy Retailers Association of Australia executive director Cameron O'Reilly said families that failed to curb energy consumption faced a rude shock.
"The increased cost of generating power is going in one direction only, and that's up," Mr O'Reilly said. "Costs of transporting electricity are also massively driven due to larger houses, population growth, big-screen TVs and the number one baddie of them all - air-conditioners." St Vincent de Paul Society state president Tony Tome said even customers who weren't using any more power were being harshly stung.
Oh those evil air conditioners, how DARE they use them in 40 degree Celsius heat, or to stay warm, in bitter winter..they should just shut up and sweat to death or freeze to death..right?
"More and more people are presenting, needing help with utilities accounts - whether that be extra time to pay, emergency relief, or food vouchers so that they can cover their bills," Mr Tome
Drill, drill now
Mine, mine now.
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