Shadow energy minister Bill Johnston has said he will legislate for a uniform tariff to keep electricity prices low in the Pilbara if Labor is elected to power in the next State election.
The move comes after Labor’s promise earlier this year to abolish the Tariff Equalisation Contribution levy which is imposed on those connected to the South West Interconnected System to subsidise power prices in other regional areas of WA.
Visiting Karratha last week with Labor candidate for the Pilbara Seat Kelly Howlett, Mr Johnston met with North West householders to discuss various power issues.
Mr Johnston said abolishing the TEC levy would ensure a 7 per cent reduction in power prices and said the power prices in regional areas would be subsidised directly by government.
“People in the Pilbara probably remember when Colin Barnett was energy minister in the 1990s he removed the uniform tariff for business, so we’re about making sure that householders can be confident going forward that they’re not going to pay more for electricity … that’s paid in the metropolitan area,” he said.
However, Energy Minister Peter Collier said the policy would not reduce prices for consumers unless prices were capped at current levels.
“Doing this will place enormous strain on the State’s finances and mean essential services such as health, education and support for the community and not-for-profit sector will be eroded in favour of increased subsidies for consumers that consume excessively and those that can afford to pay the true price for power,” he said.
“If Labor doesn’t commit to capping electricity prices at currently levels, prices will increase under Labor in the vicinity of 10 per cent every year.”
Mr Collier said cutting TEC would cost $820 million over the next four years.
“This will ensure $820 million that is funding essential services like health, education and housing in regional areas, including the Pilbara, will be diverted into directly funding electricity subsidies instead,” he said.
“Western Australia essentially already has a uniformed tariff structure, whereby through the annual budget process, the State Government determines increases for all non-contestable customers regardless of their location.”