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- Improved heath and education services.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Greens say rise in debt collectors and credit ratings complaints sounds warning on NSW energy future

An alarming increase in complaints against energy companies using debt
collectors, disconnections and credit ratings is an early warning that the
state may end up with energy ghettos, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

('Energy affordability complaints hits new high: Ombudsman', Sydney Morning
Herald, 9 Oct, p. 2, http://j.mp/smh141009e)

The NSW Energy and Water Ombudsman's annual report (available at
http://j.mp/EWON2014) shows a 53 percent increase in complaints relating to
impacts on credit ratings from 2012/13 to 2013/14. Complaints relating to
disconnections for non-payments (+32 percent), debt collectors (+32
percent) and refused payment arrangements (+64 percent) also rose
alarmingly over the same period.

Dr Kaye said: "The Ombudsman's report sounds a serious warning that
increasing numbers of NSW households face a catastrophic inability to keep
up with rising energy prices.

"Deregulation of electricity retailing and any move to privatise the wires
and poles will aggravate the underlying causes of the state's energy
affordability crisis.

"Low-income households have been deserted by successive state governments.

"Abandoned to a complex and hostile retail market, many consumers are
unable to find their way through the confusing array of charges,
contractual obligations and price offerings.

"Re-regulating the retail industry would offer a safe haven for low-income
households from aggressive and misleading marketing.

"The state's Family Energy Rebate scheme is inadequate and requires
households to apply in advance of receiving their bills.

"For most consumers, the size of the rebate does not cover the massive
increases they have been confronted with.

"Selling the wires and poles will put even more pressure on the network
component of electricity bills.

"The $17 billion price tag of the unnecessary transmission and distribution
infrastructure spend, approved by the previous Labor government and largely
left in place by the Liberals and Nationals, has been the dominant cause of
power bill increases.

"A private owner will want even greater returns on their investments,
putting yet more pressure on power bills.

"Much more can be done to help low-income consumers reduce their power
consumption by eliminating unnecessary  energy waste.

"The state faces the real prospect of increasing numbers of households
caught in an affordability crisis.

"Energy ghettos, where electricity supply is out of the reach of many, are
a frightening but increasingly real prospect if de-regulation and
privatisation are not abandoned and if the state government does not
increase assistance to low income families," Dr Kaye said.

Media release: 9 October 2014

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