Shock power bill for council

A DELAY in working out how much electricity it uses has contributed to a $1.6 million blowout in Perth council’s power bills.

Following the end of a deal with state government-owned Synergy in June 1 last year, the council has been paying “non-competitive rates” to the energy provider which saw its power costs balloon out to $2.82m in the last financial year.

The council has been trying to bundle more of its meters into the cheap energy deal, but a delay in getting the information has contributed to keeping the bigger bills rolling in for a full 18 months.

“This collation of information and negotiation took longer than expected, but it enabled the city to include a further 19 (out of 45) sites into the agreement as contestable sites, providing a better outcome for the city,” chair commissioner Andrew Hammond told the Voice.

Under WA power market rules only connections above 50MWh per year are considered “contestable”, which allows the user to pick and choose a retailer.

With the 45 contestable sites settled, the council put them out for tender, and at the December 17 meeting commissioners dropped Synergy in favour of a three-year deal with Hong Kong-owned Alinta Energy,

Although Synergy’s bid has a “negligible” price difference, staff recommended the council go with Alinta because it was also offering a dedicated account manager and quarterly energy use reports to help them cut down power consumption.

Higher rates

The city has 144 separate energy accounts and the remaining 99 not covered by the deal have to stay with Synergy on the higher rates.

Commissioners also decided to pay a little extra (the exact amount’s confidential) to switch 25 per cent of the city’s electricity to “green power”. 

Staff wanted to stick with “black power” and using the savings to invest in local eco-friendly measures.

by DAVID BELL

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