With Wagga now well and truly in the midst of another freezing winter, many residents are left trying to choose between keeping their heating on and a hefty power bill.
The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission thinks this is a decision residents should not have to make.
The watchdog has just released its blueprint for reducing electricity prices, making no less than 56 recommendations detailing ways to fix the nation’s broken electricity market after an inquest spanning 14 months.
It estimated that, if the 56 recommendations were adopted, the average family would be able to save a whopping 20 to 25 per cent on their yearly power bill.
Climate Rescue of Wagga chairman Stephen James said one of the ACCC’s most important recommendations for everyday families was that government invest in some new players on the energy market, increasing competition to push prices down.
“I think Australia’s electricity market has been broken for some time, and the ACCC’s recommendation for government support to make bankable new investment isn’t a bad idea,” Mr James said.
“One is solar energy – solar with pumped energy storage is now actually cheaper than new coal.”
While there is no guarantee governments and key players will take the ACCC’s recommendations on board, Mr James said people throughout Wagga can start doing little things right now to reduce their power bills.
“You can certainly look at energy efficiency measures for households like checking your insulation and stopping drafts – that’s usually the first cab off the rank when it comes to reducing power bills,” he said.
“And, of course, people can invest in saving a lot of money on their power bills just by putting on some rooftop solar – you’re saving money because you’re making your own power.”
While soaring power prices can no doubt be crippling for families, one of the ACCC’s biggest concerns was the effect of rising bills on small businesses.
Solar Wise’s Alex Manley, who fits solar panels to businesses throughout Wagga, said more and more owners had invested in panels in recent years to help reduce their outgoings.
“It’s quite an easy way for businesses to save money, because most of their operation will be during daylight hours, so it has a direct impact on their energy consumption,” Mr Manley said.
“Depending on the size of their business, they can offset up to 50 per cent of their running costs.”