Capital’s energy bills way too much

Capital’s energy bills way too much

FOUR out of five Canberra households could be paying too much for electricity because they are not shopping around, according to new figures released on the day the carbon tax comes into force.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s tax on big polluters starts today and will add an average of $218 a year to household electricity bills and $86 annually to gas bills.

A new website rolled out today by the Australian Energy Regulator is expected to show a vast number of Canberrans could get a better deal on their electricity bills.

The $500,000 website for the first time allows ACT households to compare their energy bills with other similar homes.

To help households with the extra expense, Ms Gillard has introduced household assistance packages while her tax reforms will also cover many of the costs.

A total of 110,000 Canberra workers will receive $300 or more of tax cuts in the next year and these savings will start to appear on pay slips this week, according to Labor.

Another 24,000 ACT workers will have tax cuts of less than $300 as the government triples the tax-free threshold from $6000 to $18,200.

A total of 9000 low-income Canberra workers will no longer pay tax because of the threshold shift.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott today kicks off a national advertising campaign across printed newspapers and the internet as well as free-to-air and pay TV advertisements reinforcing his pledge to scrap the tax if he wins office at next year’s election to ease cost-of-living pressures.

The territory’s most dominant energy supplier, ActewAGL, has released average dollar figures based on the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission’s estimates which show how household bills are expected to rise because of the carbon tax.

Small homes using 4000 kilowatt hours annually will pay an extra $124 annually.

The so-called average household using double this amount will spend an added $218.

A large home chewing through 12,000 kilowatt hours will pay $313 more a year.

The average gas customer will pay an extra $1.65 a week or $86 a year.

Observers from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) told the Sunday Canberra Times 80 per cent of ACT residents paid the standing rate for electricity which was most likely more expensive than cheaper market offers. Figures from the regulator show the ACT topped Australia for having the highest proportion of customers on the standing offers, which generally contain the most expensive rates regulators allow.

At 9am today the regulator launches a $500,000 website to show ACT residents how to find more affordable electricity and gas deals.

While effectively built to encourage more competition, Canberra households may have to look for the best deals within the company they are already with because they can still only choose between two providers.

According to an AER report last year, ActewAGL has about 90 per cent of the small customer market and Truenergy has the rest since it bought out Energy Australia’s accounts here.

The Energy Made Easy website allows households to compare whether they are getting the best prices.

People can type in what they paid on a previous bill, what season the bill was paid, how many people live in the home and the name of their energy provider.

Australian Energy Regulator chairman Andrew Reeves said the website gives residential and small business customers clear, current and consistent information to help them compare offers and make more informed decisions about offers that best suit their needs.

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