Households In Victoria Struggling With Electricity Bills

Describing 2010-11 as its most “difficult year” and forecasting an equally challenging year ahead, Victoria’s Energy and Water Ombudsman Annual Report paints a grim picture of Victorian households struggling with increased electricity bills.

According to Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria’s (EWOV) Fiona McLeod, “Electricity, gas and water prices are up. People are facing other cost of living pressures.”

Ms. McLeod says many of the customers who contacted her office were concerned about paying their bills and making ends meet.

“It was also evident that energy retailers were taking a harder line on account arrears and pursuit of energy debt.”

“2,396 customers raised debt collection as their main Credit issue and 4,079 customers (mostly energy customers) raised disconnection/restriction as
their main Credit issue. We arranged 3,601 payment plans, 46% more than in 2009-10 and 254% more than five years ago.”

Victorian electricity customers were slugged with massive electricity price hikes at the beginning of this year – and further increases are waiting in the wings. The continuing hikes are spurring on more Victorian households to go solar, as even an entry-level system can slash power bills in the region of $580 a year.

Aside from the federal Solar Credits rebate and huge drop in the price of solar power system components in recent months, households in Victoria can take advantage of the state’s transitional feed in tariff program that will pay 33c per kilowatt hour for any surplus electricity generated by a system that is exported to the mains grid.

Melbourne-based Energy Matters is currently offering a series of solar power specials in Victoria to help the state’s residents take advantage of incentives to slash their power bills. For those who don’t wish to outlay the full cost of installing¬†solar panels up front, the company also offers a payment plan arrangement.

The Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) 2011 Annual Report can be viewed in full here (PDF).