The West

Modest rise tipped for water
Modest rise tipped for water

Water tariffs would be limited to single-digit increases over the next three years under a report by the economic watchdog that is likely to deliver significant relief for WA households.

On the back of massive utility price rises since the Barnett Government came to power in 2008, the Economic Regulation Authority is expected to say pressures to lift water bills are easing.

The authority is due today to release the draft of its inquiry into water utility tariffs in which it is expected to reveal that consumers have already borne much of the pain over water pricing.

WA's major water provider, the Water Corporation, will be the focus of the inquiry but it will also deal with the Bunbury and Busselton water boards.

The release of the report comes as the Government pushes to price water - as well as other utility services - according to how much it costs to produce and deliver to customers. Under the policy, water tariffs have risen 51 per cent, or about $450 a year, to $1330 since 2008, while electricity has jumped more than 60 per cent.

It is understood the ERA will recommend relatively modest price increases over the three-year period from next July.

The recommendations follow a major shake-up of the way the ERA determines how much money regulated utilities should be allowed to claw back from their customers.

The ERA has begun using less generous measures to trim the profitability of utilities, meaning consumers ultimately enjoy lower prices.

In its most recent pricing decision, the watchdog slashed the amount Western Power was seeking for access to its network from $10.3 billion to $6.7 billion.

The ruling was largely based on giving Western Power a nominal rate of return of 6.53 per cent on its multibillion-dollar asset base, instead of the 11.76 per cent it originally requested.

ERA chairman Lyndon Rowe has previously pointed out the authority can only recommend water tariff changes rather than set them as it can for Western Power and the owners of the Dampier-Bunbury gas pipeline.

Governments have largely implemented the recommendations of previous inquiries.

The West Australian

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