The West Australian, 28 June 2017
WA householders will have to find an extra $440 to meet new fees
Charities and thousands of WA mum-and-dad businesses will be hit by double-digit increases to their power bills as part of moves by the State Government to prop up its shaky finances.
Days after it was revealed households would be whacked with a flat $169 — or 10.9 per cent — increase to their annual electricity bills, it has emerged some businesses face much higher rises.
A schedule of price rises for commercial customers of State-owned provider Synergy shows small business tariffs will rise more than 10 per cent from next month.
There will be similar increases for home-based businesses, while prices will rise almost 11 per cent for charities.
On top of higher usage charges, businesses will also be affected by 10 per cent-plus increases in fixed supply charges, though these will still be a relatively small part of overall bills.
The increases to small business power tariffs stand in stark contrast to Synergy’s big customers, who are able to choose where they buy their electricity from and will only have to pay an extra 1.1 per cent.
It is understood the latest hikes to small business mean those customers are now paying true “cost reflective” prices, suggesting Synergy will be limited to keeping future tariff increases to the underlying cost of providing electricity.
Shadow energy minister Dean Nalder claimed Premier Mark McGowan had “hidden” the increases, which he was imposing to pay for the Government’s $5 billion of election commitments.
Mr Nalder said the hit to charities was unfair and came after low-income earners were caught up in the increase to households.
“What will be really galling for small businesses is that big business will receive a cut to their electricity bill in real terms,” Mr Nalder said.
Energy Minister Ben Wyatt said it was “hard to stomach” the attack when the Opposition had jacked up prices by a combined 30 per cent in the two years to 2012 while in government.
Mr Wyatt said the rises were “regrettable” but necessary in light of the budget position.
Tilly’s Lights co-owner Wayne Merton can choose his power provider.Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian
Business owner Wayne Merton, who co-owns Osborne Park lighting store Tilly’s Lights, said he would be shielded from the latest increase by the benefits of competition.
Mr Merton’s store is a big enough user of electricity to be able to choose where he buys it, and he switched to Alinta 18 months ago with a 30 per cent lower offer. He said his situation highlighted the benefits of competition and showed why the Government should introduce it for smaller businesses.
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Critics believe the new plans will cause power prices to rise steeply.