Aurora quizzed on on price differences

Tasmanian households are being slugged more for the carbon tax on power than big businesses and industrial customers.

Aurora Energy yesterday confirmed contestable customers - big businesses who have a choice of energy retailer - would pay a much lower amount for the carbon tax than non-contestable customers. 

The Tasmanian Economic Regulator sets the prices for residential customers and this financial year determined bills would go up 10.6 per cent.

About half the rise was attributed to the carbon tax. 

A letter tabled by the Liberals at yesterday's government business scrutiny hearings showed Aurora wrote to its contestable customers earlier this year to advise them their bills would go up by just $3.75 per megawatt-hour due to the introduction of a price on carbon.

Liberals energy spokesman Matthew Groom said that was more than three times less than what residential customers and small businesses who didn't have a choice of retailer had to pay. 

``This is yet another example of just how unfair the carbon tax is for Tasmanian households and small businesses who are already struggling under the spiralling cost of living,'' Mr Groom said.

Mr Groom repeatedly pressed Aurora executives to give a dollar figure for the amount of carbon tax Tasmanians would pay through their power bills this year. 

Aurora chief executive Peter Davis told Mr Groom to do the maths as it would be 5.6 per cent of their bill, in line with the regulator's determination.

About half of Aurora's 2000 contestable customers received the letter as the other half's contracts already contained a provision for the cost of carbon.

During the hearing, Mr Groom also questioned why Hydro's subsidiary Momentum was advertising for call centre staff while Aurora's call centre operators faced an uncertain future. Under the planned overhaul of the energy market Aurora will effectively cease to exist from 2014. 

Energy Minister Bryan Green said Momentum required a different skill-set for its call centre. ``It's not a matter of just shuffling people in,'' Mr Green said.

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