Massive price hikes to the cost of public lighting paid by local councils is part of the National Party’s plan to fatten up Essential Energy for privatisation after the March 2015 state election.
That’s the claim by NSW Labor yesterday in the wake of the controversial proposal under which Essential Energy will increase electricity bills for street lighting from between 28 per cent to 123 per cent a year, depending on the local government area.
Essential Energy has lodged a formal submission to the Australian Energy Regulator seeking the massive increases. A final determination will be made on April 30, 2015, with prices coming into effect on July 1, 2015.
North Coast councils will be hit among the hardest in the state with:
- Tweed Shire facing a 58 per cent increase of $220,000;
- Lismore faces a 73 per cent hike of $143,000 a year;
- Byron Shire, 73 per cent, $65,000;
- Ballina, 73 per cent, $126,000;
- Richmond Valley, 70 per cent, $70,300; and
- Kyogle, 86 per cent, $26,300.
Earlier this week, the NSW Local Government Association and North Coast mayors called on local councils across the state to unite to fight the plan.
NSW shadow minister for the North Coast Walt Secord and Tweed Labor candidate Ron Goodman condemned Tweed National MP Geoff Provest and his state Liberal-National government for the massive increases to electricity prices for street lighting.
‘Make no mistake, these massive price hikes are part of the State Liberal-National Party Government’s plan to privatise electricity assets in NSW,’ Mr Goodman said.
‘This price hike will force councils like Tweed Shire to cut other council programs or services as ratepayer funds get diverted away to pay these higher electricity bills.’
Mr Goodman called on Mr Provest to explain why he and his party are supporting higher power bills for North Coast ratepayers.
‘This price hike will be finalised in the first weeks after the 2015 state election,’ Mr Goodman said.
‘It’s pretty clear that Geoff Provest and his government are fattening up the electricity companies as part of their party’s policy to sell off the poles and wires across NSW.’
Mr Secord said Labor was ‘plain and simply’ clear about opposing electricity privatisation.
North Coast National Party MPs Thomas George (Lismore), Geoff Provest (Tweed), Don Page (Ballina), and Chris Gulaptis have failed to support or comment on the LGA and mayors’ request to halt the move.