A new report, released today by PIAC and the Physical Disability Council of NSW(PDCN), highlights the inequity experienced by people with disability when it comes to electricity use and pricing.

More Power To You: electricity and people with physical disability (pdf) finds that people with physical disability face four layers of disadvantage:

  • Low incomes mean people with disability struggle to afford electricity
  • Disability brings additional general costs associated with wheelchairs and medicine
  • Disability brings additional energy costs associated with heating, cooling, mobility, communication and life-saving equipment
  • Disability can inhibit peoples capacity to adopt energy efficiency measures.

‘There are approximately 1.1 million people in NSW with physical disability and a substantial number of these people use electrical aids and equipment to assist with mobility, communication, breathing and life support,’ said the report’s author, Carolyn Hodge.

Ms Hodge, who is the Senior Policy Officer at PIAC’s Energy & Water Consumers’ Advocacy Program, said it was often impossible for people with disability to reduce their energy consumption or switch to off-peak supply because doing so would be life threatening.

‘Energy efficiency measures and time-of-use pricing cannot solve the problem of rising energy prices.  PIAC and PDCN have released this report to highlight the social impacts that rising electricity prices have on people with physical disability,’ Ms Hodge said.

The report includes action plans to guide government and industry on ways to reduce the disadvantage that exists in our energy markets.

Key statistics: Read key statistics (pdf) about disability and electricity costs.

Personal stories: Breathing is no more an optional activity for Ann-Mason Furmage than it is for anyone else. But because Ms Furmage (pictured) relies on electrical equipment to help her breathe, there is little she can do to reduce her power consumption or her electricity bill.

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