By OUR CHIEF CIVIC ROUNDSMAN

CLIMATE change madness has pushed up the price of power bills with some businesses paying increases of more than 100 per cent on their electricity bills.

The Weekly Times has heard of cases where businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy while the average household bill in Canada Bay, Epping, Hunters Hill, Lane Cove and Ryde is set to soar by up to 17 per cent this year.

Even conservative estimates will see local residents hit with average annual average increases of up to $320 and some people have already received bills with increases of more than $400.

Estimates quoted by Opposition Leader Luke Foley show Origin Energy customers will pay $282 Ð around 16.1 per cent more a year Ð while some AGL customers could face an increase of $296, a rise of 16.1 per cent.

Australian Energy Market Commission Chairman John Pierce blamed government renewable energy targets and the closure of coal-fired power stations for the price rise.

“Across the national electricity market the generation mix is changing Ñ with the large-scale renewable energy target leading to substantial investment,” Mr Pierce said in a statement.

“This is contributing to the closure of coal-fired plants and increasing wholesale and retail prices.”

The Weekly Times has also learned that some energy companies were “spooked” by the Gillard Government’s carbon tax offensive and may want to “bullet proof” their annual revenues against future government alternative energy madness.

Grim as they are, this week’s official energy bill statistics do not reveal the increasing number of desperate elderly residents and local low income families turning to charities across Northern Sydney as the struggle to pay their bills.

The St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army in the Macquarie region this week both report a major increase in emergency requests for assistance this winter.

“The rise in electricity prices and rent increases, put together, have seen many more people in our local area struggle,” St Vincent de Paul Macquarie Region spokesman Vince Peterson told The Weekly Times.

“Many older people, especially, are living from pension to pension, huddled under blankets and we’re also find parents going without food so their children and can eat.

“We recently helped one father who was reduced to eating Vita Brits so he could provide food for his children.

“Some people are now cutting down on their medicines and we’ve gone to homes where people have stopped paying for their medication altogether.

“What we are saying to many people is .. give us your energy bill and we’ll pay it with a voucher system .. but what worries us is that some people in dire need are too proud to ask us for assistance, although we approach all people with dignity.”

Macquarie Park Region Salvation Army spokesman Nathan Moulds reports the same crisis, caused by rising energy bills and rents.

“I regularly meet elderly people too scared about bills to turn on their heaters,” he said.

“And yes, some even go without food and medication to pay their energy bills.”

Doctors have also warned the chance of death through flu or other cold related condition is 50 per cent higher for people without heating when temperatures fall below eight degrees and they reveal there has been a massive 6,548 cases of influenza across the State this year, the worst half yearly figure on record.

“It is not just people on pensions suffering but those on lower incomes and there are a lot more people living on the edge, including those who are sick,” Mr Peterson said.

The Berejiklian government makes no apology for investment in renewable energy Ð including a new government backed, multi million dollar solar energy power station on the South Coast – although Ryde MP Victor Dominello (Lib) stressed that he is doing everything in his power as NSW Finance Minister to lower the cost of other, government related bills.

“The cost of green slips, for example, will fall substantially this year,” he said.

Mr Dominello noted that energy bill price rises are determined by the private energy companies, not government.

“We’re in this position because Labor governments in New South Wales did nothing for sixteen and a half years,” he said.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley disagreed.

He was in Marsfield on Thursday where he also put the blame for increased bills squarely on the Berejiklian Government.

“The Berejiklian Government took legal action at every turn to block the Australian Energy Regulator’s determination to lower bills,” Mr Foley said.

“As a result, families, pensioners and small businesses already struggling with costs will be slapped with higher electricity prices thanks to the Liberal Government.

“Households will have to find up to an extra $320 and small businesses could be whacked an extra $915 and it’s just not fair.

“Small businesses, like Quynh’s Cafe here in Marsfield, are facing extremely tough decisions as they try to find the money to pay for these rising electricity bills.”

Labor’s Marsfield media conference on energy bills saw local ALP candidate Jerome Laxale speak on the concerns raised by our local charity providers.

“Ryde residents will be wondering why, if the Government has got so much money in the bank, life under the Liberal National Government is getting harder not easier.

“For an average family in Ryde the pain of the Government’s cost of living price increases is going to really hurt.”

To help the St Vincent de Paul Society help people hit hard by bill increases, visit the Winter Appeal section of the website www.vinnies.org.au

Our local St Vincent de Paul Society and Salvation Army officers are concerned about elderly people are unable to afford new, increased home heating bills and rely exclusively on blankets for warmth this winter. Photo by St Vincent de Paul Society.

 

Opposition Leader Luke Foley, Shadow Energy Minister Adam Searle and Ryde Labor candidate Clr Jerome Laxale held a media conference on energy bill rises outside Quynh’s Cafe in Marsfield on Thursday.