Cut-offs cause concern
An average of 60 West Australian homes and businesses are having their electricity cut off each day.
Electricity retailers Synergy and Horizon cut off more than 22,000 customers in the 12 months to the end of June, doubling the amount of disconnections for unpaid bills in just three years.
Synergy has disconnected about one in every 60 of its customers for unpaid bills in 12 months.
The high rate of disconnections has created concern that low income earners are not coping with increased to power prices.
The WA Council of Social Services (WACOSS) says more should be done to help people who cannot pay their bills.
“People are having to make a choice between heating and eating,” WACOSS acting chief executive Jennie Gray said.
“Community service organisations tell us that they are seeing people every day who cannot afford their electricity bills.”
The McGowan Government has been criticised for power price hikes of 11 per cent and 7 per cent in its first two years. It imposed a more modest 1.75 per cent hike for 2019–20.
Shadow Treasurer Dean Nalder says people are still not coping.
“There were 18 per cent of increases in two years at a time where peoples' salaries, at best, were going up by 1 per cent,” Mr Nalder said.
“There are a lot of households and a lot of families out there who are really hurting.”
Treasurer Ben Wyatt says disconnection is only done after repeated attempts to resolve the situation.
“Synergy go through quite a process, generally they have gone through a range of payment plans and a range of processes to get payment before someone has been disconnected,” Mr Wyatt said.
Mr Wyatt says the worst of the increases are now over.