Barwon Water is seeking to adjust its prices for 2012–2013 to help pay for the construction and commissioning of the Melbourne to Geelong Pipeline.
We will apply to the independent Essential Services Commission (ESC) for approval to increase prices by an additional 3.5% on 1 July 2012 to recoup more than half the cost of the $80 million project.
The increase would be on top of a 7% (plus CPI) increase already approved by the ESC as part of our 2008 Water Plan.
Our Board yesterday endorsed a formal application to the ESC to re-open our 2008 Water Plan price determination.
If approved by the ESC, a 3.5% increase would equate to about 67 cents a week for a typical customer using 165 kilolitres of water a year.
We intend to fund the remaining costs of the pipeline through debt and improved business efficiencies.
The Melbourne to Geelong Pipeline will provide a back-up drought resource for greater Geelong's water supply by connecting Geelong to Melbourne's water system. The pipeline will ultimately have the capacity to deliver up to 16 billion litres of water a year for the region, equivalent to half our current usage.
The pipeline is not expected to be needed for several years because of recent water security initiatives such as the Northern Water Plant and Anglesea Borefield.
Adjusting prices by 3.5% will help recover a portion of the pipeline project costs sooner than anticipated.
Cost recovery would be restricted to a single year, reducing the impact on our customers. It would also ensure prices in the next Water Plan (2013–2018) are kept to a minimum.
We are aware that price increases can cause hardship to our customers, particularly at a time when other essential services are becoming more expensive.
We therefore have a range of hardship schemes in place to help customers and to ease the impact of a price increase. These include:
We also provide rebates on a range of water saving products that help customers reduce their water use.