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Electricity bill spikes confirmed

Electricity prices in NSW will rise by more than 18 per cent for some households, due to higher network costs and the impact of the federal government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme.

The state’s Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) today released its final decision on the electricity prices that will apply from July 1.

Bills for customers of EnergyAustralia, which was acquired in March by TRUenergy, are set to rise 17.9 per cent, bills for Integral Energy by 15.5 per cent and bills for Country Energy by 18.1 per cent.

Average prices across the state will rise by 17.3 per cent, IPART said.

The average residential customer will pay between $216 and $316 more a year, while the average business customer will pay between $307 and $528 more a year.

IPART chairman Rod Sims said the price hikes will be “difficult for many families to deal with and are of serious concern”.

But there are more rises to come, with IPART projecting increases of between 2 and 10 per cent from July 1 next year.

Mr Sims blamed the forthcoming rises on higher network costs that must be paid by electricity retailers and on an increase in costs due to the federal government’s RET scheme.

“No one welcomes these price increases,” Mr Sims said.

“However, the network fees that retailers must pay in 2011/12 will increase significantly.

“Retailers also have a legal obligation to meet their revised targets under the federal government’s RET scheme.

“The price increases allow retailers to recover these increased costs of doing business.

“We are very concerned that these price increases will particularly affect households with large electricity consumption levels and low incomes, typically families.”

However, NSW consumers were spared even higher price rises because of the state government’s recent commitment to fund the cost of a blowout in a solar bonus scheme.

“Had the NSW government not funded these costs, electricity prices would have increased by several percentage points more than we are announcing today,” Mr Sims said.