SACOSS believes that a new social tariff proposed today by SA Power Networks will impact existing customers, and in particular solar customers, with surcharges to offset its implementation.
SACOSS Executive Director, Ross Womersley said,
“The last thing that people experiencing major hardship want is to accumulate extra debt, so having a reduced tariff seems like a great way to assist, but someone still has to pay.
“SACOSS would welcome action from SAPN to direct some of the organisation’s huge profits back for social purposes, but failing this, we are concerned about how this tariff will be covered and who that would impact.
SACOSS is particularly concerned that the proposed tariff is likely to alienate solar customers at the very time network businesses like SAPN ought to be doing their utmost to enhance these relationships.
New disruptive and increasingly cost effective technologies like battery storage are coming and this may provide many solar customers with the option to go off grid.
Mr Womersley continued,
“Those without the resources to install those kinds of technologies will be left on the grid and in that scenario will inevitably end up paying more and more for that opportunity.
“People likely to be most wedded to the grid will be those who are getting by on low and very low incomes.
“Whilst the social tariff seems like a good idea, unless it is funded from the profits of network businesses, it will ultimately end up putting vastly more pressure on the people we want to protect and support.”
SACOSS is also concerned this proposal emerged from the monopoly network business without any apparent support from retailers, and doubts whether the new pricing rules would allow such a cross subsidy arrangement to be entertained.