Statement by ActewAGL CEO Michael Costello

Wednesday 07 June 2017

Ten years of uncertainty in national energy policy has resulted in an unprecedented increase in gas and electricity prices from 1 July this year.

This in turn has created an investment climate of such uncertainty as to culminate in a doubling of wholesale electricity prices over the past year.

As the ACT electricity regulator pointed out, it is this wholesale price increase that accounts for most of the 18.95% increase in electricity prices, which translates to a $6.40 per week increase for households using 8000 kWh.

Like electricity, the wholesale gas price has approximately doubled in the past 12 months; in this case because Australia now exports about 10-times the amount of gas used by Australian households, cutting local supply. Again, this is the result of national policy not taking account of the impact on the local market of the massive gas export licences granted.

Last year we reduced our gas prices by 6.7%, but this year, as a consequence of this huge increase in wholesale prices, residential natural gas prices will increase by 17.3% or $4.75 per week for a household using 43 GJ.

Quarter of a million dollar Energy Support Fund established

We understand these price increases may cause financial stress or significant hardship, which is why we have announced an Energy Support Fund. At the heart of the Fund is our promise to work with customers to keep them connected this winter.

We’ve met with community groups that provide frontline services and are acting on their helpful advice and the ideas we discussed. We’ll be working with these groups to identify as early as possible people who may be struggling and to direct support where it’s needed most.

Our main message to the community is if you’re struggling to make ends meet, don’t go without energy, please contact us as there are things we can do to help.

Initiatives under our Energy Support Fund will be rolled out from 1 July and includes:

1. Energy vouchers for distribution through community groups who provide emergency relief services – providing people with direct support to help cover bills.

2. A Solar Grants Program for eligible community organisations, which would help cut the energy bills of groups that provide vital community support.

In addition, we will be establishing a dedicated Bill Help Hotline, providing all customers with a range of support options and information on rebates, concessions and energy saving advice.

We are also strengthening our commitment to our Staying Connected program and providing eligible customers with personalised support to help them get back on track with their bills. This includes:

• a range of fee-free payment plans
• matching eligible payments
• comprehensive assessment of gas and electricity accounts
• referral to free external financial counselling and support
• a commitment that hardship customers will not be disconnected.

Related news

Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission determines 2017-2020 electricity prices for small customers
Australia’s energy crisis: Price rises are never good news so why is energy getting more expensive?

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