Tweed pensioners fear rising energy costs
HOUSEHOLD electricity bills are set to surge by up to 20% causing serious concern for many families and pensioners in the Tweed.
The spike in electricity costs comes after the three major electricity companies - AGL, Origin Energy and Energy Australia- who own 90% of the New South Wales electricity market, pushed power prices up on July 1.
As a part-time employee getting ready for retirement, Tweed resident Robyn Weate said she was very concerned about how she would be able to manage the increasing costs of power.
"When I did a quick calculation myself I was thinking that my bill is going to be going up $60 to $70," she said. "I'm not quite sure how at this stage but I'm certainly going to have to do something. I'm really going to have to look at it carefully."
NSW Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park, who visited the Tweed on Wednesday, said rising electricity costs would especially impact pensioners on a fixed income.
"We've got a situation where the government promised as a result of the privatisations (of energy) we would see prices not increased but there's potential price increases of 20% to 25%," Mr Park said.
"We believe it's time for government intervention in the electricity space otherwise we will have people making very difficult choices about whether they can keep the lights on or the electric blanket running.
"Their quality of life is threatened even though they're doing everything they can to try to minimise their energy usage."
The rising costs has left a big hole in families' pockets, with many turning to St Vincent de Paul Society NSW for assistance.
The charity has already distributed $400,000 worth of Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) vouchers since July 1 - $40,000 more than it did in July, August and September, 2016 combined.
"This is a significant increase with more given out in emergency relief in one month than the whole of winter last year," St Vincent de Paul's CEO Jack de Groot said.
Speaking in the Tweed on Monday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said electricity bills should now be clearer to understand but admitted the biggest issue facing the state was energy prices.