NEWS THAT MATTERS

Coasties reel from energy shock

as electricity costs spiral

After you check your mailbox, opening your electric bill may cause a rise in blood pressure. You’re shocked to find a bill that’s double your typical charges. Your brain races, wondering, “What changed? Did we leave the door open and the A/C running? Did my kids leave all of the lights on?! Did the rate go up? What’s happening?”

 

The simple answer I that the wholesale energy supplier for the Central Coast, Ausgrid, is gouging your energy bill for super profits at the expense of consumers. Why? Because the Perrottet Government’s privatisation of Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy has failed.

15 November 2022

ALAN HAYES

 

HOUSEHOLDS continue to feel the pinch as NSW electricity prices are set to soar by 56 per cent in the next two years, on top of an already substantial increase - $362 a year - that will mean power bills will effectively double by 2024.

 

The forecasts are even worse than the dire predictions of 56 per cent according to the CEO of power firm Alinta, Jeff Dimery, who said power bills without government intervention would increase exponentially .

 

While the regulator is predicting an increase of up to 56 per cent, the increase in gas and coal in the wake of the Ukraine war is being blamed for the rise, which is set to come.

 

And while energy exporters are enjoying the windfall of obscene profits, the dark side of the energy boom has left very view winners – households are getting smashed with surging powers prices whilst at the same time have to cope with stagnant wages.

 

But who are the energy boom winners? Not struggling families who are trying to pay mortgages or rent, and feed the kids, while they sink further into a financial mire. And while Central Coast families shop for a bargain on a  large can of baked beans, which will now cost in excess of $2.50 when on special, energy gouging exporters, such as Chevron, Shell, Woodside, Santos and Origin pay little or - more often - no tax; while many receive far more in carbon capture and storage subsidies than they will ever pay in tax. These companies employ only a small number of people, and much of their infrastructure is manufactured overseas. It's great for our trade surplus, but you can't take that down to the supermarket to buy anything with. The only benefits flow to shareholders - in the case of Chevron and Shell, most of them foreign.

 

There is no easy fix for the energy losers but the Albanese Government has said that it is working toward driving down energy prices.

 

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has said that the cost of living and rising energy prices remain key concerns for the nascent government, with some families struggling to afford even miniscule energy use.

 

“Renewables are going to take a long time. No one is saying it’s not important but that’s going to take some time,” said Marles.

 

“That’s the legacy of having had a decade under the Liberals where they haven’t had a consistent energy policy, where there’s been no investment in getting renewable energy going.”

 

As Labor looks to address the issue, Luke Blincoe, CEO of the smaller power retailer ReAmped, said that they are being upfront with customers by telling them they cannot offer them the best deals, with wholesale electricity costs higher than retail prices.

 

“We thought we would be upfront and tell our customers (that) to get the best deal they would have to leave us. It is gutting for us but it’s the right thing to do,” Blincoe said.

 

The energy crisis and legacy of the former federal government have hit investor confidence, an industry survey shows. The June suspension of the Australian electricity market did very little to instill confidence in an unstable energy market, which spooked investors according to a recently released survey. Yet the federal election outcome this year was still one of the most positive developments reported since the Clean Energy Investor Group survey began.

 

If we are to stem the energy crisis, a sound framework for self-sufficiency from Australia’s vast and clean resources must be set. Australia needs to again become the clever country, not merely trailing in the implantation of carbon-free sustainable energy.

 

Government and private enterprise must invest in the future in shrewd ways to ensure abundant and cheap energy for the future. Batteries, solar farms and wind farms sound great and will certainly reduce our dependency on fossil fuel – but what about taking a leaf out of the 'Book of California'. They use heliostats to produce their states power – one gigantic array in the Mojave Desert, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System and four smaller systems throughout the rest of California – and has almost eliminated the use of fossil fuels altogether, leading the USA in generation from solar, geothermal, and biomass energy.

 

A heliostat is a device that continually tilts a mirror or multiple mirror facets to track the sun's movement to reflect sunlight toward a predetermined target—such as a receiver sitting on top of a solar tower, which then uses that concentrated sunlight as the primary power source for steam turbines that generate electricity.

 

Future technology, and investment in that technology, will lead to a brighter future but what about the here and now? What about Coasties who are struggling now to pay their energy bill?

 

Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, reminds locals struggling with the cost-of-living crisis that help is available, as Liberal privatisation and international pressures combine to see many now struggling to keep the lights on.

 

“Energy prices are through the roof under Energy Minister Matt Kean’s failed promise two years ago that electricity bills under a NSW Liberal Government will fall, said Ms Tesch.

 

“For those now struggling through failed policy measures and international events, immediate assistance is needed now, and thankfully Service NSW has a number of voucher programs and schemes available.”

 

Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) vouchers are available through Service NSW to households struggling to cover their next electricity or gas bill.

 

To be eligible, you must have an electricity or natural gas account for a NSW primary residential address and be experiencing short-term financial crisis or emergency that has impacted your ability to pay your current residential energy bill.

 

Service NSW also offers a No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) for people on low incomes safe and affordable access to credit on essential goods and services up to $2,000, though cannot be used for bills or debt consolidation.

 

Ms Tesch encourages those in need to reach out, acknowledging that many who need help do not always seek it.

 

“Inflation globally and in Australia is an ongoing concern, and many households are bearing the brunt,” Ms Tesch said.

 

“If you need help, there are ways to get it. These vouchers and lines of credit are one way to assist in grappling with the soaring cost-of-living crisis that we are all facing.”

 

For more information on forms of financial assistance available through Service NSW, visit their website or call 13 77 99.

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