WA budget delivers electricity price increase

bill, ACCC

The Western Australian government has announced an increase to electricity bills as part of its 2017-18 Budget.

WA residents will experience a 10.9 per cent rise in electricity bills as the government “repairs the budget”.

“Over the last three months, we have embarked on a program of budget repair that is fair,” Treasurer Ben Wyatt said.

“The previous government left behind a budget with increases in household fees and charges, and given the state of finances there is no way the state can afford to stop them.

“These changes to household charges have not been taken lightly by this government, but we have no choice but to fix the mess left behind…”

The changes include an increase of $169 to the fixed charge component of electricity bills, or 10.9 per cent for the ‘representative household’; a six per cent increase in water, sewerage and drainage charges; as well as changes to public transport fares and vehicle licence charges.

The Energy Assistance Payment (EAP) was also increased to $300 in 2017-18 (an increase of $66 or 28 per cent from 2016-17).

The government will also overhaul the Hardship Utility Grant Scheme (HUGS), adding an additional $16.3 million into the program over two years including $5.1 million in 2016-17 and $11.2 million in 2017-18.

This will meet both an increase in demand for the program and increase the annual HUGS grant limit from $538 to $581, and $891 to $962 for those living above the 26th Parallel.

Australian Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said cost reflective pricing for energy was long overdue in WA.

“Price rises are never welcomed by customers but this change reflects the removal of electricity subsidies that all taxpayers have had to bear,” he said.

“It also makes the true costs of supply power more transparent.

“Cost reflective tariffs will encourage new competitors into WA once the market is opened and will create clearer incentives for technologies that help customers to use energy more efficiently, while saving taxpayers hundreds of millions each year.

“Competition is the best way to put a lid on price rises in the longer term as customers are offered better deals for energy.”