Latest power bill gives residents 'shock of their lives'
HOMEOWNERS are getting the shock of their lives with their latest electricity bills.
Electricity accounts appear to have spiked considerably in the past quarter and many Sunshine Coast residents have been left scratching their heads wondering why.
One homeowner, Melanie McRae, from Mount Coolum, couldn't believe her latest bill amount. It had doubled from $800 in the same quarter last year to $1600.
What made the total worse was that during this period, the McRae family of five, including three children under 13, had been away for two weeks.
They have no swimming pool and although they do have ducted air-conditioning, Mrs McRae says they use this "very carefully".
She was quick to discover she wasn't the only person frustrated at the sudden surge in the cost of the utility.
Bruce Blair, a resident in nearby Mount Coolum, also couldn't believe his bill had gone up from the usual $600-$700 to "over $1000".
The Blair household includes six people, and the family tries to keep the bill low, using "all the discounts".
The bill of another Mount Coolum resident, Janine Cullity, went up about $200 from about $700 to $900.
The Queensland Competition Authority, the regulator of electricity prices, said even though the carbon tax no longer applied from July 1, a typical residential customer, consuming about 4100 kWh per annum, will see a 5.1% or $72 increase now the carbon tax has been removed.
These residents share another similarity other than their address - they are Origin customers and the meter reader, Energex, has not always read their meters.
Another major cost driver is the Solar Bonus Scheme, which pays a feed-in tariff to residential costumers.
It accounts for an estimated 7% of the total bill.
Network charges for the poles and wires are the third-largest cost driver, accounting for almost half of the typical bill.
Peregian's Brenda Kelly-Milicevic, an AGL customer, also received a note from Energex saying it could not access her meter because her gate - which was solar powered - was locked.
"They have been opening that gate and reading the met
er for four years - I am not sure why there was a problem now," she said.
An Energex spokesman said meter readers aimed to read every meter, every three months. "If it is an estimated read, next time we get there it balances out."
An Origin Energy spokesman said a variety of reasons could account for why a bill was suddenly higher.
In the case of the McRaes, it is understood the two previous bills had been based on an estimate and the latest bill was "effectively a catch-up".
WHY ORIGIN SAYS YOUR BILL MAY BE HIGHER
1. Customer may still owe money from a previous bill, and the amount has been carried over
2. The distributor has not been able access the meter, and has provided Origin an estimated meter reading, which gets caught up at a later date (It's important to understand that retailers like Origin bill customers based on meter reads provided by the distributor)
3. It was a longer billing period than the previous one, so more usage has been recorded
4. There was a price increase (note that retailers do not set electricity prices in Queensland, and this is done by the independent pricing regulator QCA)
5. There's been a change in the seasons, and heating or cooling costs may have had an impact
6. The customer may be using appliances that consume more energy.