Valley saves on power

Latrobe Valley households appear to be racking up far lower electricity bills than the state average, according to a new customer survey.

In figures produced by One Big Switch, a for-profit electricity price monitoring company proactively calling for new members to join its database, households in Churchill, Traralgon, Morwell and Moe have estimated their annual household power bills are 25 per cent less expensive than the state’s annual average of $2210.57.

According to the survey, Morwell households recorded the cheapest electricity bills in the Valley, at an annual average of $1508 across 55 members surveyed; more than $700 less than the state average.

Traralgon and Moe estimated slightly more expensive averages, recording annual average bills of $1661 and $1658 respectively (from estimates by 81 and 66 members), while Churchill recorded considerably higher bills, at an average of $1768 per annum across 22 households.

The figures have come as somewhat of a surprise for Express readers, with a number of online Facebook comments expressing amazement Latrobe Valley average usage figures could be so low.

“I would love to know what we are doing wrong here… our quarterly bill is around $800 or so,” reader Carmel Morris said.

“Pft, our quarter bill is almost half (the state annual average)! Every time no matter how conscious we are!” reader Tanya Tutin said.

The figures also clash with previous news Latrobe Valley welfare groups had recorded a surge in electricity consumers struggling to meet power bills, due to recent increases in retail electricity prices.

However Express reader Bodye Darvill said she could not understand why some bills were so high.

“Our power is always around $180 to $220 and our gas in winter maxes around $240 … It’s not like we scrimp to get the bills lower,” Ms Darville said.

Speaking to the Express to explain the low figures, One Big Switch director of campaigns Christopher Zinn said while the data pools were low, the consistent results across the region meant the results had validity, however he was unable to provide a specific explanation for Latrobe Valley’s apparently lower electricity bills.

Chief executive of specialised Victorian energy consumer representative, the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre, Jo Benvenuti said while it was difficult to verify the survey information, the socio-economic profile of the Latrobe Valley gave some context to the figures.

“There’s so many variables that impact on electricity consumption … lower income brackets impact on people’s capacity to pay and can in some cases force people to lower their usage,” Ms Benvenuti said.

She said based on CUAC data, Victorians were particularly savvy retail energy users, recording the highest ‘churn’ rate (number of switches between energy retailers) in the world.