WEIPA residents and businesses will not be immune from the state’s electricity price increases after Rio Tinto said last week that it would enforce the rises.
Letters were sent out last week informing locals of the increases and that they would come into effect from August 1.
However, after receiving a flood of complaints, Rio Tinto issued corrected letters to electricity customers, informing them that the increases would not take place until October 1.
The price increase was not a mistake.
Small businesses will be slugged up to a 35 per cent increase on their usage, from 25.408 cents per kWh to 34.319 cents per kWh.
The daily service fee will also increase by 15.4 per cent from 123.14 cents per day to 142.18 cents per day.
For residential customers, the price goes up by 36.5 per cent, from 22.135 cents per kWh to 30.227 cents per kWh and a daily service fee increase of 21 per cent from 90.408 cents per day to 109.521 cents per day.
While Rio Tinto maintains that it does not profit from providing the town’s electricity through diesel generation and in fact loses money on powering the town, it also subsidises the cost of electricity for all staff members.
It means that those hardest hit by the increase are non-Rio Tinto employees and businesses.
The Weipa Bowls Club spends about $20,000 per month on electricity.
Manager Tania Iti said a 35 per cent increase would cost the club $7000 extra per month, or $84,000 per year.
“That’s a big chunk of money that could be spent elsewhere,” she said.
In a statement, Rio Tinto said that the price increases were based on government advice.
“Electricity prices in Weipa will increase from October 1, in line with changes to the Queensland government’s gazetted rates for regional electricity pricing, which are used as the benchmark for local prices,” a spokesperson said.
“Tariffs for regional Queensland are regulated and determined by the Queensland Competition Authority and electricity prices are gazetted each year by the government on July 1.
“As Weipa township’s electricity provider, Rio Tinto adjusts electricity prices accordingly.
“Rio Tinto continues to operate the township’s electricity supply at a loss to keep Weipa power prices in line with the tariffs and reduce impact on the community.
“We recognise that power price increases add to cost-of-living pressures already being experienced by residents and businesses.
“If residents are experiencing financial hardship or anticipate requiring assistance paying their bill, please call 1800 316 720.”