Big Electricity Switch campaign director Christopher Zinn. Picture: Toby Zerna Source: The Daily Telegraph
The Edgeworth family from North Narrabeen. (L to R) Abbey, eight, Flynn, eight, Chris and Kelly Edgeworth, Kieran, 16, and Ben, 13, Picture: Show More Source: The Daily Telegraph
THE groundswell of discontent over electricity price rises has this morning morphed into decisive action with Aussies rushing our People Power campaign.
By midday more than 4300 people had registered their interest in getting a better deal on electricity through the website www.bigelectricityswitch.com.au.
The Daily Telegraph has joined forces with our sister mastheads across the country to push for bulk discounts large enough to neutralise an electricity price rise the federal Treasury estimates could be as high as 10 per cent.
The campaign, officially launched this morning in Sydney, is being led by one of the country’s most respected consumer crusaders, the former face of Choice Christopher Zinn. Mr Zinn believes it will be possible to negotiate price cuts of at least 12 per cent if the campaign can attract support from 25,000 households and businesses.
SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN HERE
The Daily Telegraph, Melbourne’s Herald Sun, the Adelaide Advertiser and news.com.au are collaborating with Mr Zinn and the One Big Switch organisation because of growing frustration about the cost of energy.
Many households are dreading the carbon tax, which starts on July 1, because the pace of price rises will be so rapid it will be all but impossible to contain bills by cutting consumption – despite their best efforts. Those in the eastern half of Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle and the Hunter region will be slugged an extra 20.6 per cent on their power bills, of which almost half – 9.4 per cent – is down to the carbon tax.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal last week said that those living in western Sydney, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands would pay an average 11.8 per cent more, including the 9.4 per cent carbon tax slug.
Costs will rise by an average of 19.7 per cent across the rest of the state, of which 7.9 per cent is down to the tax.
Two-thirds of Australians oppose the controversial tax, a recent poll by the independent Lowy Institute revealed. Yet despite this, the Gillard government has refused to even consider reducing its impact.
In a poll on this site today, nearly 90 per cent of 5500 respondents said they would switch electricity providers to beat the carbon tax.
“People are disconnected from their electricity bills and as prices go up, they feel powerless to do anything,” Mr Zinn said yesterday. “One thing people can do (to save money) is become more energy efficient, but they are already doing that. People will drive around to find the cheapest petrol but they don’t do that with electricity.
“What we want to do is reconnect people with their bills. Consumers have the power in this to achieve better deals.”
Under the campaign, households must register for the bulk discount at bigelectricityswitch.com.au by midnight on July 15. Mr Zinn said people who registered didn’t even have to accept the discount – instead they could use the offers to shop around or negotiate a better deal with their current supplier.
“We’re keen to get people who haven’t switched to join the group and drive competition in the market. That is, to make electricity retailers work even harder to get your custom.”
While The Daily Telegraph is focusing on the carbon tax because it is the single biggest driver of the upcoming increases, those who support the policy can still register for the discount deal – because other factors will send prices up as much as 13 per cent.
Australian Energy Regulator chairman Andrew Reeves, whose group sets the amount network owners can charge and earn, said: “We are aware any increase is a burden on households. Electricity bills are the largest single bill most households see and any increase is a concern.
“Customers are responding to higher prices by reducing consumption. We consider under current rules, the allowances reward the electricity businesses with returns that are greater than the costs they reasonably should incur, in particular the cost to finance the new investment.”
The campaign is Mr Zinn’s first since joining One Big Switch, which was set up in 2011 by Lachlan Harris, a former adviser to ex-prime minister Kevin Rudd.
Choice and One Big Switch collaborated on a banking campaign last year.
Households can register to join in the deal by logging on HERE by midnight on July 15