Price relief on power welcomed

COMMUNITY groups and small businesses say lower power prices will deliver some much-needed relief.

The economic regulator this week approved a 7.8 per cent drop in electricity charges from July 1 as a result of the expected repeal of the carbon tax.

The announcement has reignited political debate over scrapping the   tax.

Launceston Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Maree Tetlow said power was an obvious, unavoidable fixed cost for most small businesses.

``A yearly buffer of about $136 off electricity prices will bring welcome relief in the face of increased costs in other aspects of doing business,'' Ms Tetlow said.

Tasmanian Council of Social Service chief executive Tony Reidy said the expected saving of $164 a year for average households would have a big impact on low income earners struggling to make ends meet.

``The state's electricity prices are a serious and significant problem for many Tasmanians, and a reduction of this type is a great step in the right direction,'' Mr Reidy said.

The federal government needs the approval of the Senate to implement its policy to scrap the carbon tax, with the vote likely to rest with the Palmer United Party. 

Tasmanian PUP senator-elect Jacqui Lambie said the carbon tax had to go.

``However, like Clive Palmer I want a government guarantee in black and white - not just a comment in a newspaper article - that all savings are passed to the electricity users,'' Ms Lambie said.

Tasmanian Economic Regulator assistant director Glenn Bounds said yesterday that the reduction could be ``revisited, reviewed and reversed'' in coming months if the carbon tax was not abolished.

``An application could be made to the regulator to reopen the approval process and make another decision on power pricing,'' Mr Bounds said.

``There aren't any time-frames set in legislation, and it would probably be a matter of the situation becoming clearer as to whether the carbon tax would be repealed or not.''

An attempt to win the Senate's approval before the new PUP senators take up their seats is expected to fail, with the Greens and Labor firmly opposed.


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