Around 31,000 Canberra households will receive an increase in the annual utilities concession from the ACT Government to offset electricity price hikes.
The utilities concession will permanently increase to $750, up from $700, and a further $50 concession will be applied for 2021-22, taking the total payment to $800.
The concession increase will set the budget back $6.3 million over the next four years while the one-off $50 payment will cost $1.55 million.
The concession will be expanded to ACT Services Access cardholders and will include asylum seekers with an access card at a cost of $80,000 over the forward estimates.
An additional $1 million will also be poured into the Utilities Hardship Fund over the next four years.
The government’s response comes in light of the ACT’s economic regulator, the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), allowing ActewAGL to raise their prices by a maximum of 11.95 per cent from 1 July.
Average residential customers face a $3.76 a week ($195.50 a year) increase in their electricity bills. Average businesses will be hit with an increase of $14.45 a week, or just over $750 a year.
The increase is due to the almost 37 per cent increase in network costs announced by the Australian Energy Regulator last month, the ICRC said.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the government would continue to raise the community’s awareness about price shopping to help lower their electricity bills. Around 40 per cent of Canberrans remain on standing offer contracts.
Almost $1 million will be spent to improve community energy literacy and education over the next four years.
“There are other lower prices available,” Mr Barr said. “The ACT Government’s [benchmark electricity price comparison bill] passed recently will make it even easier for Canberrans to compare electricity offers and ensure they can access better deals from retailers.”
Under the scheme, electricity companies will now have to inform Canberrans about better deals on their bills, a move designed to save consumers hundreds and businesses thousands of dollars each year.
Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Shane Rattenbury also encouraged Canberrans to switch to energy-efficient technology and renewable electricity sources, like solar panels, to help reduce their power bills further.
Around 74,000 Canberra households have saved an average of $300 a year through the ACT Government’s Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme, and this jumps to $5200 a year for businesses, Mr Rattenbury said.
“Energy efficiency is another way people can take control of their energy bills,” he said. “There is a lot all households can do to be more comfortable while using less power, with government advice and support to make those changes at www.actsmart.act.gov.au.”
For those needing help, further information is available on the ACT Government’s Assistance website.
To inquire about a cheaper energy plan, go to www.energymadeeasy.gov.au.