Local households are struggling to cope with soaring energy costs, driving a massive spike in complaints.
Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria’s (EWOV) 2019 annual report released this week shows a 57 per cent increase in the number of cases about energy prices from the Strathbogie Shire over the past 12 months.
There was also a 38 per cent increase in cases from the Mitchell Shire over the same timeframe.
Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan said the report showed households were struggling to cope with drastic increases in energy prices.
“Household budgets are under pressure from high energy prices and increased taxes, fees and charges from the Andrews Labor Government,” Ms Ryan said.
“While EWOV have found an overall declining trend in overall case numbers, access to affordable energy remains the primary concern for Victorian energy and water customers and the top customer complaint presented to the Ombudsman.
“42 per cent of the nearly 19,000 complaints referred to the EWOV were related to billing matters including high bills, errors in billing and tariffs.”
Ms Ryan added that she had raised the issue of rising energy bills with the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change on several occasions over the past 12 months and following on from the 24-hour blackout which severely impacted residents in the Avenel and Nagambie townships.
“Many local businesses and individuals across the Strathbogie region continue to bear the brunt of the Andrews Government’s mismanagement of the state’s energy crisis following the closure of Hazelwood in November 2016,” Ms Ryan said.
“Daniel Andrews promised Victorians that the shutdown of Hazelwood would not see energy prices increase by more than 85 cents a week.
“Instead, thousands of Victorians across the state have suffered as a result of the power station’s closure, with families struggling to heat their homes during the winter months.
“I have continued to share these concerns with the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change and again seek that she takes immediate action to address the state’s escalating energy crisis to provide relief for Victorian’s beyond Melbourne’s train tracks.”