Power price relief is on the way for the thousands of South Australians living in remote communities that are not connected to the electricity grid.
Minister for Energy Tom Koutsantonis said a re-elected Labor Government will introduce reforms to ensure remote communities will pay about the same price as customers connected to the grid.
The new pricing structure to be introduced from July 1, 2014, follows representations made by Labor candidate for Giles Eddie Hughes.
The policy announcement is in response to growing unrest from rural communities such as Coober Pedy and Andamooka who currently can pay up to 110 per cent more for power than metropolitan Adelaide.
The reforms will use residential and small business standing offers currently offered to Adelaide customers to determine tariffs in remote areas.
Based on an average annual household consumption of 5000 kW/h, South Australians living in remote areas are expected to save up to $45 a year on their power bills in 2014/15.
Large business customers are expected to see significant savings on their current costs.
“Introducing competition to the energy market a year ago has put downward pressure on electricity prices for people living on the grid” Mr Koutsantonis said.
“While ground-breaking reforms mean discounts for South Australians connected to the grid, some communities have not been able to share in the benefits of increased competition.
“To ensure remote communities such as the tourist and mining hub at Coober Pedy are not overlooked, a re-elected Labor Government will introduce a new tariff structure for power bills.
“These changes will reduce tariffs in remote areas from their current level to those comparable with the standing offers available to grid-connected residential and business customers.
“These energy reforms for remote areas are part of Labor’s focus on reducing cost-of-living pressures for all South Australians that has already delivered more than 30 initiatives to make this state a more affordable place to live.”
Under the Remote Areas Energy Supplies scheme about 2,600 customers are provided with more than 15 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually.
The infrastructure to generate and supply power at 10 Remote Area Energy Supplies sites across South Australia is owned by the State Government, while three networks are independently owned at Andamooka, Coober Pedy and Yunta.
The RAES scheme’s tariff structure currently aims to keep power bills for households capped at 10% above the on-grid price, while business customers pay a tariff closer to supply prices.