Tuesday, 5 September 2017

HOUSEHOLDS across the region could save hundreds of dollars on their energy bills each year, with a new NSW Government assistance package offering far-reaching reforms that will put power back in the hands of consumers, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said today.

The relief package will save small businesses up to $1,900 a year – with support for low income households and pensioners also increasing by 20 per cent to help counter the impacts of rising energy costs.

Mr Marshall has welcomed the reforms, saying it will make life easier for thousands of households struggling with rising power bills across the region.

“Modern life is completely reliant on dependable access to affordable energy – but a confluence of record power prices and lagging income means many households think twice before turning on the heater,” Mr Marshall said.

“With families and businesses across the nation feeling the pinch, the NSW Government has initiated these reforms to bring relief until the energy market stabilises.

“This comprehensive package will increase the rebates for low income customers by 20 per cent, with further discounts to help households upgrade to more efficient lighting and air conditioning.”

Mr Marshall said that small businesses could also take advantage of discounts when upgrading to energy efficient gear.

“Whether you run a café in Glen Innes or a butchery in Inverell, you could save your business almost $2,000 a year by stacking energy efficiency incentives, which will help improve margins in both the long and short terms,” he said.

“Energy retailers also on notice to end anti-consumer practices – if customers are charged for trivial conveniences like paper bills, or not automatically sold the best deal, penalties can be imposed on the company.”

The energy affordability package includes:
• The Low Income Household rebate increased from $235 to $285 and the Family Energy Rebate increased from $150 to $180 to help around 900,000 customers struggling to pay their bill;
• Discounts on equipment upgrades for small business to save each business up to $1,900 on their yearly bill;
• Discounts for energy efficient lighting and air conditioning upgrades for all households that could lead to bill savings of up to $500 per household per year;
• Discounts for up to 23,000 concession cardholders to save up to 50 per cent on the cost of upgrading old fridges and TVs to energy saving models, saving each household an average of around $200 a year;
• An end to unnecessary charges from retailers such as fees for paper bills;
• Penalties for retailers who don’t move rebate recipients to a better deal; and
• Energy saving upgrades for up to 16,500 public housing clients to assist the state’s most vulnerable, with participating households to save an average of around $360 per year on their bills.

The benefits of the scheme are expected to stack – for example, a given household could save $200 on the initial purchase of an energy efficient air conditioner to replace an older heater, which would then cut energy bills by $225 annually.

The discount figures will be finalised after the program goes through the tender process and the amount each household and business will save will depend on the number of upgrades they choose to install and their power usage.

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