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‘When electricity bills arrive it’s as good as someone pointing a gun at my head’

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ACCC recommendations to help Australians save on their electricity bills.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, has now made 56 recommendations to fix the National Electricity Market, in a report  released today. The Inquiry commenced in March 2017 to identify the causes of high prices across the entire supply chain.

“The National Electricity Market is largely broken and needs to be reset,” says ACCC Chair, Rod Sims in a media release. “Previous approaches to policy, regulatory design and competition in this sector over at least the past decade have resulted in a serious electricity affordability problem for consumers and businesses.”

The report comes a day after Insight guest, Sunita who is a full time carer for her ill daughter, said the most difficult time for her is when the power bill arrives. “It’s as good as someone pointing a gun at my head, because we don't know how we're going to pay it,” she told Insight's Jenny Brockie in the episode, Hungry.

Sunita’s young daughter was born with a rare skin condition Epidermolytic ichthyosis (EI), which sees her get severe blistering of the skin from and she cannot regulate her body temperature.

“In the middle of winter she could be really hot so we've got to have the aircon on,” Sunita says. “If she goes really cold we've got to have the heat on.”

That results in a high power bill. “It's very high,” Sunita says. “I've got the power company always chasing me and threatening to disconnect our power”

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Thousands of schools across the country are now running breakfast clubs to make sure their students have a healthy meal to start the school day.
Thousands of schools across the country are now running breakfast clubs to make sure their students have a healthy meal to start the school day.

Sunita receives a carers’ allowance and her husband is a labourer. “We'll be lucky if he brings home 400 a week because he gets paid container rate, not hourly rate,” Sunita says.

After rent and utilities Sunita is left with $100 or sometimes $200 for food for her two children and her husband.

Sunita is not alone.

“It is clear that most households are paying far too much for electricity. In addition, some of the most vulnerable in our community are forced to struggle through freezing winters and scorching summers, with many others also having difficulty paying their bills,” the ACCC says.

If its recommendations are adopted, the ACCC states, the average household will save an estimated 20 to 25 per cent on electricity bills, or around $290-$415 per annum.