Latest figures from the Queensland Competition Authority have shown that the number of small businesses in Queensland having their electricity cut-off has surged 28 per cent in the last year.
Whilst residential disconnections were down by 19 per cent for the same period, the strong increase in business disconnections and complaints over bills and accounts (which nearly doubled in 2012-13) indicates the struggles that small businesses face in the state.
Nick Behrens of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland said “It paints a clear and accurate picture of a trading environment which has been really challenging.” In most recent figures to June this year, there has also been an increasing number of pensioners and concession card holders whose electricity has been cut-off; power was switched off to 1271 pensioners which represents a 39 per cent jump on the previous quarter.
The figures follow similar findings recently in Victoria, where the Essential Services Commission found a 33 per cent increase in electricity disconnections in 2012. Gerard Brody of the Consumer Action Law Centre fears the situation will get worse as energy prices continue to rise.
“We are concerned that this situation is going to get worse, not better, unless the energy retailers really reform the way in which they treat the most vulnerable consumers in the market place.” he said.
Ergon Energy recent released it’s annual report, revealing that solar panel owners received $75 million in feed-in-tariff payments over the last year.