Is the energy bill relief too low?

FAMILIES and businesses struggling with rising energy bills could soon save hundreds of dollars a year, as the NSW government announces a comprehensive energy relief package.

The bill proposes increasing all energy rebates by 20 per cent, along with discounts on energy efficient appliances, which the government says could save small businesses up to $1900 a year. Energy rebates for concession cardholders will also be increased by $50 per year to $285 and rebates for other eligible households will rise by $30 per year to $180.

As an example, the government said a household could receive a discount of about $200 for an energy efficient air conditioner to replace an older heater, that will save them about $225 a year on their bill.

A butcher could receive a $400 discount on replacing an old refrigeration system with a new energy efficient cool room which, combined with other measures, could lead to bill savings of up to $1900 per year.

However, Tamworth Business Chamber president Jye Segboer said the savings weren’t enough for most businesses to justify such a large capital outlay.

“Cash flow is paramount to the survival of any small business,” Mr Segboer said. “If they don’t have the funds readily available, they’re certainly not going to look at it.”

The package also includes penalties for electricity retailers who don’t move rebate recipients to a better deal and an end to unnecessary charges such as fees for paper bills.

In August, The Northern Daily Leader’s social media was overwhelmed with stories from residents about recent power bills increasing by hundreds of dollars, often more than double previous bills.

“This bill I got a couple days ago read $320, my last bill three month ago was $120 – it’s gone up $200,” pensioner Kevin Peno wrote on The Leader’s Facebook page.

“No more air conditioner for me anymore.”

Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said the package was about giving people “a fair go”.