ELECTRICITY companies are refusing to tell struggling families and businesses exactly how much the carbon tax will add to their power bills.
They have rejected state government demands for transparency on power prices, claiming it is impossible to provide accurate itemised billing to every home and that it would put them squarely in the sights of the ACCC.
However, the O’Farrell government will this week announce its intention to force all energy retailers to provide an “averaged” carbon tax liability on every consumer’s bill starting from July 1.
Federal Treasury estimated electricity prices will increase by up to 10 per cent when the tax kicks in on July 1.
It has emerged taxpayers will be forced to bankroll the Gillard government’s own $45 million carbon tax bill.
The federal government’s power bills, which cover the majority of departments and agencies, totalled more than $450 million in the last financial year, according to documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph. The expected carbon tax bill for next year for the government sector is estimated to total $45,655,915.
Premier Barry O’Farrell and newly elected Queensland Premier Campbell Newman have both called for greater transparency on the impact of the carbon tax on power bills.
The Gillard government, concerned about a public backlash to the tax, is also negotiating with energy companies to provide households with a glossy pamphlet as part of their monthly bill.
But none of the three largest energy companies – AGL, Origin and TRUenergy – will commit to itemised billing for customers after July 1.
The power companies fear that itemised power bills, based on estimates of the affect of the carbon tax, may inadvertently inflate bills and lead to action from the ACCC.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims has warned any price gouging from the carbon tax will attract heavy fines. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has threatened to introduce legislation into parliament if power bills do not show the full cost of a carbon tax.
Mr Abbott has written to Ms Gillard demanding the government “ensure the carbon tax’s impact is fully transparent”. “The Coalition is concerned that the government is trying to hide the true costs of the carbon tax from Australian households and business,” Mr Abbott wrote.
Mr Abbott said total transparency “can only be achieved by itemising the carbon tax as a separate charge in the customer’s account – thereby showing the impact that the carbon tax has on the total amount payable.”
See also: Power shock
TASMANIAN power bills are set to rise by an average of 26 per cent or $650 a year from July because of the carbon tax and other hikes being considered by energy regulators. (The Mercury)