SMEs battered by energy prices



Small businesses in NSW are paying the highest electricity bills in Australia when compared with other states, despite operators spending more time searching for the best possible deal.

Economy | News | Small Business | Sustainability

By Joe Kelly

Small businesses in NSW are paying the highest electricity bills in Australia when compared with other states, despite operators spending more time searching for the best possible deal.

A survey of 520 NSW small businesses conducted by Canstar Blue found that 52 per cent had paid between $500 and $2,000 on their last electricity bill and 18 per cent paid between $1,000 and $2,000. A further 7 per cent of businesses surveyed said they paid more than $2,000.

This compares to 41 per cent of small business owners across Australia paying between $500 and $2,000 on their most recent bill, with 13 per cent spending between $1,000 and $2,000 and 4 per cent spending more than $2,000.

The survey suggests that small business owners in Victoria are the best off with only 33 per cent paying between $500 and $2,000 on their last bill and only 2 per cent paying more than $2,000.

Despite paying top dollar for electricity, NSW small businesses are frequently subject to power-outages with 49 per cent experiencing an electrical shortfall in the last 12 months. A whopping 82 per cent of NSW small business operators said they would use sustainable energy if it was not too expensive.

Small business owners in NSW are the most likely to compare quotes from different providers to obtain the best possible deal and 27 per cent have switched providers in the last year. This compares to a national figure of one in five while, in Queensland, only 7 per cent have switched in the last year.

There were more than 670,000 actively trading small businesses in New South Wales in June 2013, providing jobs for roughly half of the state’s workforce.

The cost of energy has forced businesses in NSW to cut back on expenses with two in five survey respondents in the state saying they had restrictions on colour printing.

The NSW state government is currently planning to sell 49 per cent of the state’s electricity assets and will take the partial sale to the next election. Premier Mike Baird says the sale will raise up to $20bn and put downward pressure on prices.

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