Halls Gap Hotel struggles with price increase

A HALLS Gap business has had to cut employee hours after a $20,000 increase to its electricity bill.

Halls Gap Hotel owner Matthew Humphries said the business received a 64 per cent increase on its monthly power bills.

“We’ve had to cut back on our casual employees’ hours,” he said.

The Halls Gap Hotel’s contract with their power provider expired on December 31.

After obtaining quotes from other energy providers, the hotel signed up for a new two-year contract with the same provider, which offered the cheapest rate, but at a significantly higher price than their previous contract.

Mr Humphries said the the price rise made it difficult to run a business.

“It’s a significant increase, it’s not just an extra $100 a week – it’s an extra $400,” he said.

“It works out to an extra $18,000 to $20,000 a year and that’s coming straight off our bottom line.

“We’re trying to reduce hours to absorb the increase, which isn’t something we want to do and the customers are then affected if they aren’t getting the level of service that they should be getting.

“It isn’t good for the employees either who are trying to make money.”

Mr Humphries said he didn’t know if there was a solution to the problem.

“There’s not much we can really do about it – we’re a business and we can’t turn off our fridges or turn off our lights,” he said.

“I would much rather invest that $20,000 into the hotel.”

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said the Halls Gap Hotel wasn’t the only Wimmera business experiencing electricity price increases. 

She said businesses and residents were regularly talking to her about the effects of rising power bills.

“This significant price rise is effecting the Halls Gap Hotel’s ability to employ staff,” she said.

“The closure of the Hazelwood power station means power prices are going through the roof and Wimmera jobs and businesses are now at risk.”

Ms Kealy urged the state government to immediately act on energy prices.

“I will continue to actively pursue this important matter to ensure that fair energy prices are offered to residents and businesses," she said.

Mr Humphries said it was good to see Ms Kealy taking a stand and trying to resolve the issue.

In October, Horsham RSL branch president Robert Lockwood said the club was struggling with electricity price rises.

“Electricity prices have gone through the roof and we have taken a big hit,” he said.

“The difficult thing is that we have to keep the poker machines running all the time.

“This is certainly hurting us and being a not for profit organisation makes it even more difficult.”

Ms Kealy said the club had a 52 per cent increase in their power bill between August 2016 and August 2017.