RELEASE & AUDIO: 95,506 Australian Families Living in the Dark

New analysis undertaken by the Australian Power Project

has today shown that more Australian families are being disconnected from their electricity supply than ever before. Families across Australia are being disconnected following enrolment in hardship programs and payment plans.

The Australian Power Project has analysed Australian Energy Regulator and Essential Services Commission’s figures on disconnections, customers on a hardship program and payment plan data in the National Electricity Market (NEM) for the financial years of 2016-17 and 2017-18 and found that nationally there have been 95,506 households were disconnected in 2017-18, up 16% from 2016-17. This is equivalent to the number of homes in Hobart or the Sunshine Coast.

In Victoria, where the Hazelwood coal-fired power station was closed in March 2016, the number of customers being disconnected from their electricity supply has risen by a staggering 36%. In New South Wales, where AGL will close the Liddell power station in 2022, the number of households being disconnected is up 18% to 32,315 in the space of just one year.

Australian Power Project CEO Nathan Vass said that “Australian families are finding it so hard to pay some of the highest electricity prices in the world that they are being disconnected altogether. These figures point to the cold hard reality that families are finding it so hard that payment plans and hardship programs just aren’t working.”

“Electricity prices are rising much higher than inflation and wages. It’s little surprise that families on hardship programs plans have risen 13%. Charities like the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul have made it clear that the number of families seeking help is rising. Many families are prioritising putting food on the table before keeping the lights on”.

The government’s Finkel Review found new High-Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) coal-fired power stations are cheaper to run than wind, solar with storage, and gas. This off-the-shelf solution would deliver the downwards pressure on power prices that Australian households and businesses need.

“The best thing to get power prices down for Australian families is for the Federal Government to take on board the 10 proposals from investors who want to build like-for-like replacements for our coal-fired power stations. Only with the reliable and affordable supply that a High-Efficiency Low Emissions power station will power prices come down” Mr Vass said.

Disconnection Figures

Disconnections Hardship Customers Payment Plans
2016-172017-18%Jun-17 Jun-18%Jun-17 Jun-18%
QLD25,20027,91010.75%19,700 18,648-6%43,273 38,843-11%
SA10,90210,556-3.17%11,483 15,52126%19,459 20,7216%
ACT42750117.33%659 98733%1,172 1,47320%
NSW27,38132,31518.02%25,603 30,42516%88,483 82,288-8%
TAS1,016818-19.49%2,208 3,25147%2,419 2,79716%
VIC*17,30423,40635.26% ** ** ** **
National82,23095,50616.14%59,653 68,83213%154,806 146,122-6%

*First six months only. Excludes Victorian AGL and Power Shop Figures due to failure to provide data

** Victorian Essential Services Commission yet to report hardship or payment plans

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