Water price freeze

The Essential Services Commission has effectively placed a freeze on water prices for customers across the region.
Bills will increase at a rate lower than inflation over the next five years for customers of Coliban Water, while bills for Western Water customers will increase only at the rate of inflation.
The independent economic regulator reviewed the water authorities’ pricing plans for 2018-23 and rejected Coliban Water’s proposal of a revenue cap, instead accepting a price cap. The ESC adopted a reduction in price before inflation of around six per cent over five years for Coliban customers, while it approved Western Water’s proposal of flat prices before inflation.
From July 1 Coliban’s prices will reduce by 1.9 per cent. With the cost of inflation also at 1.9 per cent this essentially creates a price freeze for the 2018/19 financial year.
It’s a far cry from the last review before the 2013-2018 period, in which both authorities proposed price increases of up to 20 per cent following the prolonged millennium drought.
Coliban’s managing director Jeff Rigby said customers in the region had helped inform Coliban’s plan with a preference for smoother pricing for bills, slowly increasing over time at levels that were lower than inflation.
He said Coliban had driven efficiencies in operational and capital costs to help smooth prices while still delivering high levels of service for customers.
“We have a planned capital works program of $197.1 million over five years. This will be delivered while keeping prices stable,” Mr Rigby said.
“Works focus on service improvements and catering for growth.”
ESC senior regulatory manager in water Dean Wickenton said that while Western Water noted it was facing significant cost pressures, it didn’t want to pass those through to customers through prices.
“What they instead proposed was a two-year pricing period with prices flat before inflation so they could undertake a business review to see how they might manage costs and to inform their longer term prices,” Mr Wickenton said.
See the full page advert in this edition of the Express for more details on Coliban Water’s fees and charges.
Customers will also receive further information in accounts from next week.

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