Australia –The Victorian Opposition says a Coalition election promise will see the majority of Victorians facing a massive hike in their power bills.
The government is vowing to implement every recommendation from the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission into Black Saturday.
One of those is to move some powerlines underground and upgrade others to less risky aerial cabling.
The Opposition’s Energy spokeswoman Lily D’Ambrosio says a government report reveals that will cost $20 billion.
She says that will cause a $740 a year rise in power bills for the next 11 years for many consumers.
“These costs would be passed on to predominantly all customers in the SP Ausnet area and the Powercor area,” she said.
“That’s over a million people.
“Be upfront, be honest, and explain to Victorians the full impact on the cost of living.”
Energy Minister Michael O’Brien says it will not cost anywhere near that much.
“We’ll be working to identify the most effective bushfire mitigation at the most affordable price,” he said.
Mr O’Brien says final costings will be available in September.
The $20 billion figure comes from an interim report of the royal commission, which was handed to the Labor government last December.
The royal commission’s final report said it was “inappropriate” for the community to bear the entire cost of any replacement scheme and the Government should share half the burden.
The inquiry recommended that the progressive replacement of the ageing lines should be completed in areas of highest bushfire risk within a decade.
Five of the 11 major fires that started on Black Saturday were ignited by failed electricity assets, including the Kilmore East fire, caused by a broken conductor, which resulted in the loss of 119 lives.