A local elderly cancer sufferer is distraught after receiving a $1000 quarterly power bill recently.
Rachel Walker, a pensioner who lives frugally in a home she’s made from a derelict house in Kiah, said that she has no idea why she had been charged so much.
“My appliances just don’t come up to that amount,” she told The Magnet.
“To start with the bills were in the $300s and then they went up into the $500s and that was without changing anything.
“And now it’s a few bob short of $1000, and all that’s changed is I’ve had a new stove put in, but I don’t use it that often.
“I’m devastated because I’ve got nowhere to go. I’m trapped in this bill-paying cycle.
“It’s not just this bill but it’s every quarter and I just can’t afford it.
“I can’t even afford to live in this derelict old house.”
When contacted by The Magnet, power company Origin said that there had been no error in the metre reading or the bill total and instead pointed to ways power could be saved.
“We understand that increases in energy prices have placed more pressure on the household budget,” the Origin spokesperson said.
“To help our customers address the challenge of rising energy costs, Origin provides a range of solutions, including tailored products to meet customer needs, energy efficiency advice and audits, flexible payment options and our financial hardship assistance program.
“If any of our customers require assistance, we encourage them to call us as soon as possible on 13 23 56 to discuss.”
In this instance, Origin offered an over-the-phone energy efficiency audit, but that’s cold comfort for Ms Walker who said she already lives frugally.
“I lived without power for 15 years so I’m much more conscious about conserving power than the average person,” she said.
“I’d sooner have a bowl of soup than make a big meal because it’s cheaper.”
Ms Walker, who has squamous cell carcinoma, came from Cape York just over 10 years ago, travelling to Eden to meet with family she has here.
She discovered the Kiah house, which is owned by the Aboriginal Lands Council, derelict and unoccupied so she moved in and turned it into a home.
Eventually her tenancy was recognised and she pays rent, while South East Aboriginal Management Services based in Moruya stepped in to improve living conditions.
“The house was totally derelict at the time and I only had this bar fridge and little portable oven so they did a lot of things with installing the solar hot water, the new stove and a washing machine,” Ms Walker said.
“But I don’t think the appliances have had much to do with it because the bills have always been high.
“Sometimes I’ve phoned up and complained and electricians have come out, but they say that everything’s normal.
“Something is going on here.
“Where is the power usage coming from? It’s obvious I’m not using it.”