Approximately 145,000 small businesses and homes in NSW are in a crisis due to the rising cost of power and owe power firms about $663 in unsettled power bills. The latest statistics indicate that 10% of the debtors owe at least $1500.
The situation is alarming and this has led to the state-run Energy and Water Ombudsman requesting family and friends of elderly consumers to get in touch with the service providers to negotiate a cheaper deal.
NSW Energy Debt
Data from the ombudsman’s office indicates that demands and requests from the affiliated consumers have increased by about 21% over the winter and autumn season. This period sees consumers turning up the heat to deal with the cold season.
According to Ombudsman Janine Young, financially-vulnerable consumers always flood her office seeking redress to the energy debt. They complain about increasing debt, high bills and disconnections.
When speaking to the Daily Telegraph yesterday, she said that customers particularly the low-income earners, casual workers, and working poor are struggling to keep up with the rising power bills.
Losing a job means that you no longer can afford to pay the bills and this may as well lead to the inability to provide a decent warm meal to your kids.
Ms Young told the newspaper that the complaints have risen following the 20% increase in price announced in June this year. She encouraged family and friends to chip in and assist the elderly in footing the bills or renegotiating with the providers for a better deal.
Data from the Australian Energy Regulator
Data from the Australian Energy Regulator shows that 85,801 NSW households owe the service providers for unsettled electricity bills, whereas 44,854 households are yet to pay their gas bills.
The report further indicates that 11,245 small businesses have an electricity debt and 3175 have pending gas bills.
Craig Memery, a Public Interest Advocacy Centre spokesman cautioned that “ordinary Australians’’ are facing challenges in settling their power bills. The crisis isn’t just a financial problem to the battlers but and the average person, but also to the environment.
More people in Middle Australia are already struggling to make their mortgage payments, and the financial stress is becoming worse due to the energy debt.
The Ombudsman’s office lodged 23,613 complaints between 2016 and 2017, and this comprised of 6546 cases in April- June. This was a 20% increase compared to the same period last year.
Most customers complained about Origin Energy, a company whose underlying profit in 2016-2017 was $550 million. The firm had 4867 complaints filed against it, 3818 complaints targeted Energy Australia while 3607 grievances were directed at AGL.
Energy saving efforts such as the use of solar power energy been strongly encouraged.
Many Australians are looking towards renewable energy solutions and eco-friendly devices such as low energy washing machines, fridges, and solar-powered water heaters to reduce costs.