Government Moves to Slash Power Price Increases Sun 13 May 2012 Lara Giddings Premier Bryan Green Minister for Energy and Resources The Premier Lara Giddings today announced moves that will slash forecast power price increases, saving Tasmanian households more than $200 on their electricity bills. Ms Giddings said the action is expected to halve price rises scheduled for July 1. "Tasmanian customers would have been faced with increases of 23 per cent or more but now it will almost be the lowest price rise in the country," Ms Giddings said. "Power charges in other States are likely to go up on average by more than 15 per cent, well above what Tasmanians can now expect. "This will mean that Tasmania has the second lowest power increase in the country, behind only Queensland where prices are expected to rise by about 8 per cent. "The State Government understood that the foreshadowed increase in the order of 23-26 per cent was a burden Tasmanian households could ill-afford to bear, which is why we have taken action." Ms Giddings said she would introduce Regulations in Parliament this week to reduce the wholesale cost of energy which will limit price increases as part of the Government's response to the Expert Energy Panel's report. "This will immediately wipe off seven per cent of the price increase. "Limiting power increases will provide relief to all Tasmanian households and small businesses. "No Government can prevent price rises completely but we will do whatever possible to ease cost of living pressures." Mr Green said the cost to the State's energy businesses would be offset by future returns from the Federal Government's carbon pricing policy. "The Government firmly believes that the trade-off between lower prices and lower revenues is in the best interests of all Tasmanians. Mr Green said the July 1 forecast increase would be reduced by a further two per cent following a decision by the Australian Energy Regulator to average out charges relating to expenditure on Aurora's poles and wires assets into the next regulatory period. With the full support of the Government, Transend has also adjusted its revenue and cost forecasts, meaning a further three per cent reduction of the potential price increase we were expecting on 1 July, bringing the total reduction to 12 per cent. "The Government remains sharply focused on providing a safe and reliable electricity network and ensuring we have the lowest possible power bills." Mr Green said he would outline the Government's full response to the Expert Panel's report in Parliament this week. "We are able to take this action now because we have thoroughly considered the Panel's recommendations and identified options where the Government can influence power costs with lasting effect. "The Government is acutely aware of the impact of rising power prices on Tasmanian households and we are determined to put as much downward pressure on future increases as possible. MS Giddings said Tasmania would continue to have one of the most comprehensive energy concessions regimes in Australia. "The amount the Government spends on these each year will again increase next year as a result of our continued commitment to index electricity concessions in line with future price rises. "It should also be remembered that of the remaining power price rise that will come into effect on July 1, around 5 per cent can be attributed to the Carbon Tax which households will be compensated for. "Obviously any increase will still have an impact on low income Tasmanians, which is why the Government is also investing in initiatives such as energy efficiency measures in public housing and the extension of the No Interest Loans Scheme announced this week to cover the purchase price of appliances such as heat pumps. "In contrast, the simplistic policies of the Tasmanian Liberals would actually lead to bigger bills for households," Ms Giddings said.