Number disconnected for failing to pay power bills soars

MORE than 7000 Queensland households were disconnected for not paying electricity bills between July and September last year, the highest quarterly rate since 2011.

The Queensland Competition Authority figures released this week showed 1400 of those disconnected were pensioners or concession card holders.

Ergon Energy Queensland had the highest number of disconnections, followed by Origin Energy.

There was also a record number of households participating in hardship programs offered by retailers.

Queensland Council of Social Service chief Mark Henley said the skyrocketing figure showed the hardship program was not helping some households.

"In many cases household income is simply not sufficient to meet the cost of their bills," Mr Henley said.

"It also highlights the growing number of households who are finding themselves in financial stress.

"We urgently need to see improvements to the targeting and adequacy of the electricity rebate in Queensland to ensure people get the assistance they need to keep the lights on."

Just over half of the households that had power cut off were eventually reconnected, many within a week of disconnection.

QCOSS is calling on those in the community sector to complete a survey about their clients' experiences

"This will help us identify the real issues that sit behind these concerning statistics," Mr Henley said.

QCA's report also noted more than 32,000 complaints against providers from residential customers, 22,000 of which were made against Origin Energy.

The authority is following up with the provider about the increasing number of complaints made against it. - APN NEWSDESK



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