Electricity bills are set to soar in New South Wales (NSW). The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) have recommended cumulative electricity price increases of up to 64% over the next 3 years. Most of the cost increase is supposed to be due to the Federal Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme although this scheme has not passed as legislation yet.
The Energy Minister John Robertson has said that the energy rebate scheme (for concession card holders) will be increased from $112 per annum to $130 per annum, further increasing to $145 and $161 per annum respectively from July 2011. The average power bill in NSW however is estimated to increase by $900 per annum within three years!
Given that already there has been a 30% increase in the number of people seeking payment extensions at one electricity retailer (Energy Australia) and 10% at another (Integral Electricity) it is unlikely that these rebates will be anywhere near enough to prevent hardship.
Big businesses including mining companies and supermarkets will not have to pay the increased costs because they can buy in bulk. The fact that the state owned electricity corporations do this for big businesses, but not for ordinary people, shows where the government’s allegiances lie.
These electricity increases are just those being planned now. After 2013 if the electricity retailers are sold to private operators the government will no longer have any retail price control.
Electricity in the modern world is a basic necessity of life. The fact that it is treated as just another commodity shows that there is something wrong with the system. On the basis of removing the profit motive and planning, a socialist society would be able to provide cheap or free electricity to ordinary people. It would also be able to do this on a sustainable basis through the use of renewable energy. The idea of going into debt in order to cook or heat your home would be a thing of the past.
By Gary Duffy