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Electricity bill a shocker

HAIR RAISING: Emerald residents Siobhan Vogler and baby Aubree are conserving electricity.
HAIR RAISING: Emerald residents Siobhan Vogler and baby Aubree are conserving electricity. Jessica Dorey

EMERALD residents Thomas Lloyd and Siobhan Vogler are among many locals querying the cost of their electricity.

Two quarters ago, the couple were shocked to receive a $1400 bill, nearly double the same period 12 months previous.

"We understood the first bill as it was summer, we had the air-conditioning going and the TV on during the day,” Siobhan said.

However Thomas, who works away between Monday and Thursday, said it was when they received their most recent bill they thought something was amiss.

"We turned our air-conditioning to 25 degrees and only used it in times of need,” he said.

"During this time our air-conditioning had a short out and blew a fuse which meant we didn't have it for about a month and a half.

"We got our new bill which ended up as $1500.”

Siobhan said they had queried the meter but the record showed the same reading on the box.

"All the appliances are new so it's not an old appliance chewing up electricity,” she said.

However, in an effort to ensure a reduced bill in the next quarter the couple has started to check the meter box daily.

"We hardly use the dryer, we are hanging our clothes out to dry and we have the windows open instead of using the fans and air-conditioning,” Siobhan said.

Through their efforts the couple has reduced their usage by 40kWh.

"We hope the next bill will be a lot lower, if not it is obvious there is something in the house chewing up the electricity.”

Although frustrating, Siobhan said the electricity bill shock did make them more aware.

"We are definitely more observant of what's being used now, it is a lot for a family to pay, ” she said.

"We now substitute it with something that won't use as much electricity.”

Other Emerald residents have taken to community Facebook pages to share their disgust over bills rising by hundreds of dollars between quarters.

The price for regional Queensland electricity is regulated by the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) while south-east Queensland electricity prices have been deregulated.

The Queensland Government subsidises regional electricity prices under the government's uniform tariff policy (UTP), however as the costs continue to add up, it seems the subsidy does little to help regional Queenslanders.

Bills are likely to keep increasing with the QCA noting wholesale energy costs and large-scale renewable energy target costs as the cause.

A QCA increase of 2.8 per cent for customers on tariff 11 was implemented for bills between 2016 and 2017.

For information about the draft determination for the 2017-2018 regional Queensland electricity prices visit the QCA website.

CQ News contacted Ergon Energy following the community discussion.

An Ergon Energy Retail spokesperson said: "prices set by the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) have remained the same since they took effect in July 2016”.

"The QCA's next annual set of prices, which will be aligned with south-east Queensland prices, will apply from July 2017,” the spokesperson said.

"The latest billing cycle covers the summer period where we experienced higher than normal temperatures, which may mean increased usage of air conditioners or other appliances such as a second fridge.

"However, our message to customers is to contact us so we can discuss how we can help you with managing your energy needs.

"Due to safety reasons, Ergon Energy's meter reading service in cyclone areas was impacted by the cyclone.

"In these areas, customers who were due to be billed will receive estimated bills based on the actual premise readings from same time last year or previous reads.

"Bills will be adjusted after the next actual meter read is recorded.

"We encourage customers to call one of our local call centres on 13 10 46 or email us directly via customerservice@ergon.com.au if they would like to discuss their energy bills and discuss options available to them.”


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