FORMER Perfect Match host and marriage celebrant Greg Evans will be performing a unique commitment ceremony this Valentine’s Day.
He intends to marry the most “cheated-on” Australian electricity user to an Energy Matters solar panel in a protest against the huge price hikes – 91 per cent according to the Australian Energy regulator - in energy bills over the last five years.
And with some of the highest electricity charges in the country, a Bega consumer could well be that person.
“It seems each quarter we’re hit with another bill shock and wonder what on earth we’ve been doing differently to warrant such an increase,” Mr Evans said.
“I’m a bit of an expert when it comes to relationships and I think we’re being had.
“Not only have energy prices skyrocketed, you almost need to hire a private investigator to catch them out and understand your bill.
“Bills seem designed to confuse.
“Sure they’ll tell you how much energy you’ve consumed compared to last year, but it’s near impossible to compare what you’ve been charged over the same period.
“I believe a good relationship is based on open and honest communication!” the marriage celebrant said.
According to Mr Evans there are two possible solutions - either change your consumption habits or become less reliant.
“Let’s face it, if the temperature is soaring outside you’ll want to keep your house cool so changing your energy consumption habits will be pretty tough.
“There is a simpler solution and it’s one I've recently discovered myself.
“I've installed a solar power system and have shacked up with Energy Matters.
“Not only am I producing my own electricity, my decision to go solar is also great for the environment.
“Given the recent heatwaves, I know I can now crank my air-con up to 11 and it won’t cost a fortune.”
Mr Evans said electricity companies have had the upper-hand for far too long and it's only now consumers are starting to realise the full consequences.
“Australian consumers need to put trust back into the equation, demand an open relationship with their provider and think about the environment.
“It’s time to save money, use our abundant Australian sunshine and find a sustainable energy solution without being held to ransom.
“As a new convert to solar, I want other Australians to be as happy as I am so I'm on the lookout to find the person who has been most cheated on by their electricity provider,” he said.
“I will give them a free Energy Matters solar power system so they too can divest themselves of unnecessary relationship baggage.
“If you feel you are this person, go to www.energy,atters.com.au and tell your story.
“The winner will be flown to Melbourne on Valentine’s Day for a special ceremony where they will be married to their new life partner - I’ll even be the celebrant!”
Bega’s power among nation’s priciest
ENERGY Matters is behind a number of residential solar system installations in Bega and has about five commercial ventures in the planning stages.
Executive director Nick Brass said Bega’s electricity prices are among the country’s highest.
“I’ve seen a number of bills from Bega and they are right up there.
“Across the whole spectrum there are huge bills being paid.
“Without access to natural gas and without access to cheaper contestable electricity, Bega prices are not being tested.”
Mr Brass said the infrastructure required to distribute electricity to the region is a driving force behind price rises.
“You’re at the end of a very long line that comes down from the Hunter Valley,” he said.
“The cost of distribution from my point of view is quite high.
“There is a very well educated and environmentally conscious community around Bega.
“People should recognise that if we did get 50 per cent onto solar it would considerably reduce the cost of bringing electricity into the area.”
With the canning of government subsidies and feed-in tariffs taking some of the shine off solar, Mr Brass said the message now is to “size your solar to how much you consume”.
Mr Brass said a 5kW system - an investment of approximately $12,000 - could potentially save a household $3000 a year over the life of the system, but added not everyone needs such a large system to dramatically reduce their bills.
“Instead of filling your rooftop like what was done during the time of feed-in tariffs, size it appropriately to only what you’d use during the day,” he said.
“It is the peak prices, the daytime prices, that are going up fast and that’s what we can help with.”