Essential unsure about Broken Hill bill
New South Wales residents could face higher electricity bills to pay for water projects.
A community consultation meeting was held this week to discuss state-owned Essential Water's proposed $93 price rise, per customer per year, to water and sewerage bills, to pay for water projects and services in Broken Hill.
The monopoly water provider says it needs money for $65.7 million worth of planned infrastructure projects to improve water facilities and services.
But the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) sets the price, and says its final price determination will balance “the cost of efficiently delivering services with what consumers can afford to pay”.
Essential Water belongs to Essential Energy, whose customer and network services general manager Luke Jenner says will need to get the money from somewhere.
“Any shortfall in funding, if we can't close that gap by doing fewer projects, ultimately that gap would be covered or subsidised by the electricity customers of NSW,” Mr Jenner told the ABC.
“All our revenue comes from our electricity customers, so any shortfall that we aren't able to recover from our water customers effectively would go to electricity customers all over NSW.”
Much of the desired $65.7 million will go to the replacement of the Wills Street Waste Water Treatment Plant in Broken Hill, which should cost $34.5 million.
The plant was built in 1939, and there is now significant concern that sulphur from the sewerage is eroding cement.
The local Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is concerned that effluent may seep into groundwater.
Essential Water says a new plant would have a 50-year lifespan.
The capital expenditure plan also includes $10 million to replace service reservoirs and tanks in the area, $6 million for other water treatment plants, and $6 million to replace water and sewerage mains around Broken Hill.
IPART will release a draft price proposal in April 2019.