Electricity prices could rise after South Coast bushfires

Endeavour Energy crews repairing the bushfire-damaged network on the South Coast. The cost of the repairs could flow through to people's power bills. Picture: Endeavour Energy
Endeavour Energy crews repairing the bushfire-damaged network on the South Coast. The cost of the repairs could flow through to people's power bills. Picture: Endeavour Energy

Electricity prices could go up in the Illawarra and South Coast after the recent bushfire, according to the energy regulator.

But a spokesman for the Endeavour Energy network said it would look to keep charges "as low as possible".

Bushfires on the South Coast saw substantial damage to electricity infrastructure, with around 500 power poles replaced, and the possibility of more to come.

The Australian Energy Regulator sets the amount electricity distributors can charge, which usually happens in five-year cycles.

An AER spokeswoman said businesses like Endeavour could apply to pass on infrastructure repair costs now.

"If, as is more likely in the current scenario, these businesses need to rebuild in the middle of a regulatory period, they can apply for what is called a 'pass through' which effectively allows them to recover more from their customers than was agreed at the start of the period," the spokeswoman said.

"However, given the fire crisis is ongoing and the AER has yet to receive any formal applications for pass through funding, it is too early to say whether there will be increases in network costs in affected areas."

She said the AER's view was that consumers should pay no more than necessary.

"We will scrutinise any funding requests to ensure only efficient spending is approved," she said.

An Endeavour Energy spokesman said it was "too early to tell" how much it had spent repairing bushfire-damaged infrastructure.

"There are still parts of the network affected by the bushfires to be assessed where damaged poles will need to be replaced and dangerous trees removed," he said.

In terms of raising power bills, the spokesman said Endeavour Energy would do "all it can" to keep charges down.

"We are working with the AER and federal and state governments to explore all available avenues to limit any impact on customers' bills from our bushfire recovery," the spokesman said.

This story Electricity prices could rise after South Coast bushfires first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.