Regulator to monitor return of water desalination payments
11 July 2012
Victoria’s economic regulator, the Essential Services Commission, has outlined its proposed approach to monitor the return of unrequired desalination payments to Greater Melbourne metropolitan water customers.
The Commission has released a paper, Monitoring the Return of Unrequired Desalination Payments, that addresses the return of unrequired desalination payments collected from retail water customers due to the delays in construction and deferral of the completion date of the Wonthaggi desalination plant.
The Victorian Government has requested that the Commission oversee and independently verify the return of payments, adjusted for interest and inflation.
Melbourne’s water businesses collected a total of around $230 million in 2011-12 to cover the costs of the desalination plant, for which the completion date has been delayed.
In June, the Government announced that for 2012-13, prices for water, sewerage trade waste and some recycled water services would remain at 2011-12 levels, and not be increased by nine to 11 per cent, as originally proposed in the four-year water plan approved in 2009. Any further unrequired monies were to be returned to customers between July-September 2013.
The final amount to be returned to water customers will vary, depending on factors such as water demand, population growth, the relevant interest rates and the timing of the commissioning of the desalination plant.
In its paper, the Commission said that it would review whether the water businesses could return unrequired payments to customers earlier.