Cheaper power deals zapped by 'sneaky' billing

BUSINESSES owners have been left "frustrated and angry" after seeing little or no savings on their power bills.

Scrapping the carbon tax was set to strip 7.8 per cent off electricity accounts for Tasmanian households and small businesses from July 1.

Larger businesses on contestable contracts were informed in writing the standard reduction would not apply to them, with savings from turfing the price on carbon to be factored into their individual arrangements.

Launceston dry cleaner Mathew Bowen recently signed on to a new contestable contract, which took effect from July 1.

Mr Bowen's new deal included heavily reduced peak and off-peak rates, with usage for both consumption types plunging by 20¢ a kilowatt hour.

But Mr Bowen has accused the state's power providers of "sneaky accounting" after network charge price rises outstripped the discounted energy charges on his latest bill.

"I was quite excited to receive my account and find out just how much I had saved," Mr Bowen said.

"But let me tell you when I saw this bill my reaction was not good . . .

"I thought, 'You pack of mongrels, this is bastardy at its best'."

Mr Bowen said energy charges were quite a small component of his account.

All four network charge rates increased on his July bill, with those and other "pass-through" charges dominating the payable amount.

Mr Bowen said the "hidden" charges completely undermined the cheaper energy rates.

Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Michael Bailey said he had received similar complaints from several members who were "worried and surprised" about July power bills.

"It's clear for at least some businesses energy savings are being swallowed up by increased distribution and transmission charges," Mr Bailey said.

"It looks like the discounts everybody was celebrating about have just 'mysteriously' jumped across to a different part of the bill."

Mr Bailey said energy savings had no meaning if people ended up paying the same amount on their bills.

Retailer Aurora Energy said it was aware of the network charge increases, but that those costs were now determined by TasNetworks.

A TasNetworks spokeswoman said the tariffs recently increased by an average of less than 5 per cent due largely to decreased usage.

But the spokeswoman said retailers could exercise discretion as to whether they passed on network charges directly to individual customers.


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