Councils band together: ‘common sense needed’

COUNCILS have banded together, and with the support of Local Government NSW, are seeking advice on Essential Energy’s proposed massive hike in street lighting charges.

Cooma-Monaro Shire Council mayor Dean Lynch said Essential Energy was claiming it needed to raise its street lighting maintenance charges by an average of 94 per cent across its footprint.

“In come communities we are talking over 100 per cent increases in charges,” Mayor Lynch said.

Mayor Lynch said the councils had banded together to “try to get some common sense into the pricing review” that was now underway.

“It’s particularly galling when street lights were part of the 

electricity asset strip in rural NSW,” he said.

“Communities used to own the electricity assets.

“Now people in regional NSW are being asked to pay even more and the state [government] pockets the profits.

“It’s not so much about paying an electricity bill as paying an electricity tax.

“It’s been very challenging.

“The claims being made by Essential Energy are part of a piece of work filled with technical information and we really needed to get expert help.

“We only had a few weeks to pull it all together, but what we have found should inspire the Australian Energy Regulator to take a good hard and independent look at what we believe to be unfair and just plain wrong.

“This means millions of dollars to regional NSW which is money that could be better spent elsewhere, on a road or a library book,” he said.

Mayor Lynch said Essential Energy was found to be particularly slow to take up new more reliable, more energy efficient and lower cost lighting options such as LEDs.

Councils have called for the Australian Energy Regulator to reject Essential Energy’s proposal for the dramatic price increases and are calling for a complete review by Essential Energy into how it manages the street lighting service.

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