Karratha residents air concerns over power bill blowout

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Some Karratha residents have expressed concern about a steep rise in the price of their electricity bills from Horizon Power.
Camera IconSome Karratha residents have expressed concern about a steep rise in the price of their electricity bills from Horizon Power. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

A steep rise in the cost of residential power bills, including cases of bills double or triple the original amount, was the focus of a community meeting organised by the Karratha City Ratepayers and Residents Association last week.

About 30 Karratha residents aired concerns about sudden increases to their bills despite little apparent change in energy use, after receiving bills ranging from $800 to more than $2000 for two months’ consumption.

No clear cause determined but theories raised include smart meters overheating, dual meters operating at some properties, and people unknowingly using more power through air-conditioning.

KCRRA president Dani Hage said there was a lot of confusion in the community.

“We’re concerned about the high charges, the energy units that are being used or that Horizon Power is claiming are being used — in excess of 130-180 units a day which is just crazy for a basic 2x4,” she said.

“People are being very conscious of their energy consumption as well, so for some people to be continuously getting high bills and (their usage) to be increasing rapidly all the time is strange, and it’s so hard for people to live like that.”

She said those who were affected often struggled to pay.

Karratha resident Bianca Pocock, who co-hosted the meeting, said her power bill had almost doubled after her family moved house in November.

“It’s had a massive impact for myself and my family,” she said.

“No one’s living comfortably in our house with this heat.”

“We are rationing a lot of power to try and cut costs and it’s massively inconvenient but you have to because you’ve gone into survival mode.”

“People can’t live like this.”

The KCRRA has written to State Energy Minister Bill Johnston about the issue and is preparing to start a petition in coming days to prompt further investigation.

Horizon Power retail and community manager Michelle South, who attended the meeting, said the company would continue to work with customers who had concerns.

She said Horizon understood some customers struggled to pay their power bills, especially at the peak of summer when appliance use increased.

“We’ve been in contact with a number of customers who attended the meeting this evening, and we’ll continue to work with them,” she said.

“We’ve also extended to them an invitation to join us in the Horizon Power office for another meeting so we can sit down and together we can work to resolve the issues and see how we can proceed.”

She also said customers with concerns about their bills could contact the company to have their meters tested.

Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said he would follow up the issue with Horizon Power and within the government.

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