A key charity has called on the state government to provide extra relief funding for Orange people hit by rising power bills – arguing it is colder here.
The St Vincent de Paul Society is the only authorised provider of vouchers to help needy people pay their electricity bills and avoid being cut off in Orange.
Energy and Utilities minister Don Harwin visited the Vinnies offices on Monday to see first hand the introduction of a new online voucher system which has replaced a paper voucher system.
Vinnies Orange regional president and Energy Accounts Payments Assistance [EAPA] administrator Michael Horth said they had asked the minister for extra funding for Orange as it was colder during winter than many other areas of the state.
They also asked the government to provide a list of tips to help people use power more efficiently.
Mr Horth said the minister had said he would look into the situation.
VIDEO: Energy minister Don Harwin explains the new system:
Mr Harwin said that last year the government had helped about 800 Orange families through the EAPA scheme.
“Last year $160,000 worth of paper vouchers were issued to households in Orange,” he said.
“Now the new digital voucher system means this energy bill payment support can be made faster and more efficiently.”
Mr Harwin said Vinnies had overcome some early teething troubles with volunteers needing time to get used to the digital system.
“Obviously with any new system it takes some time for volunteers, for staff, to get used to it.
“I was keen to come here and see how the experience of the past two weeks at Vinnies had been going.
“The news is good, always there will be a few teething issues,” he said.