The Nationals WA energy spokesman Terry Redman says the State Government must fix a flaw in its COVID-19 small business relief package that is denying regional operators much-needed relief from power charges.
Mr Redman said while a $2500 electricity tariff offset is available to small companies impacted by the coronavirus restrictions, many don’t qualify for the rebate.
“Too many businesses are falling through the cracks in this package because they either use too much power or their premises use a sub-meter,” he said.
“A condition of the rebate is businesses must consume less than 50 megawatt hours a year but a number of owners have approached me concerned they go over that mark and will miss out on the help they so desperately need.
“Many of these aren’t big operations and now, when they need a helping hand after being impacted by trading restrictions, they find they have been left out in the cold.
“I have written to the Energy Minister asking for the State Government to offer all regional small businesses the same level of electricity rebate support during this crisis.”
Nationals Member for the Agricultural region Colin de Grussa said many of the businesses who contacted him with concerns and didn’t qualify for the one-off payment operated in what is essentially a monopoly market, leaving them with no opportunity to purchase cheaper power at a time when they were fighting to stay afloat.
“This greatly affects businesses in regional locations such as Esperance where there is only one electricity provider,” he said.
“There are also regional small businesses, such as stores in shopping complexes, which work off a sub-meter and also didn’t qualify for the rebate, even if they used less than 50 megawatt hours.
“The power use is charged to landlord who then reclaims the cost of the power used by the tenant.
“The small shop owner doesn’t qualify for the $2500 because they don’t have a bill with Synergy or Horizon Power that the payment can offset.
“I call on the Minister to reconsider the rebate criteria and ensure it reaches more regional businesses who need all the help they can get.”