At a time when many ACT residents are feeling bill stress, Icon Water has announced the company will not be increasing water and sewage rates for the coming financial year.
Icon Water’s decision is despite the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) allowing an increase of up to 1.5 per cent for the 2020/21 financial year.
Icon Water Managing Director Ray Hezkial said Icon Water has decided to keep rates on hold to help alleviate pressure on businesses and the community following the impacts of COVID-19.
“We are officially entitled to the price rise as set by the independent regulator but we have chosen not to charge the maximum and have frozen the combined water and sewage rates instead. It is a small thing but we hope that this will help our customers at a difficult time,” Mr Hezkial said.
Prices are independently set by the ICRC to allow Icon Water to run and maintain current infrastructure and reinvest in new infrastructure. Mr Hezkial estimates the price freeze will result in a revenue loss of $3.7 million.
“We have a responsibility to manage over $2.2 billion in infrastructure and so by the end of this financial year, Icon Water will have reinvested over $110 million back into water and sewer infrastructure to meet current and future community needs. The price freeze will not affect the continued delivery of our services.”
Mr Hezkial says Icon Water is in a position to freeze prices due to their long business cycle.
“Our assets have a life span of anything between 20 to 100 years so we feel we can absorb this loss in the short term without any immediate impact on our service. While this means we can offer some relief in the short term, unfortunately, a price freeze it is not sustainable in the longer term.”
But Mr Hezkial reassured customers there will not be a big hike in future years.
“There will be a step up in prices in 2021-22, a time when we estimate people will generally be in a better position to pay but we will not be seeking to recoup lost revenue the following year, we have written off that lost revenue.”
In a further measure to assist customers struggling to pay their water and sewage rates, Icon Water has introduced flexible payment plans.
“If you’ve been impacted by COVID-19, we know the last thing our customers want to worry about now is bills. We can help. We are encouraging people to contact us as soon as possible if they are having difficulty paying. We have a range of flexible options available to both residential and small business customers including due date extensions and payment plans,” Mr Hezkial said.
“Our Staying Connected program is for people who are struggling to pay their bills. We can develop a personal plan to suit our customers own time frame and make sure the payment amounts agreed are within their means.
“We have also paused our credit collection, and suspended interest on outstanding amounts. We don’t want to make things any harder for our customers at this time.”
For more information on how water and sewerage pricing is set, visit Icon Water.