Entire street faces bleak Christmas after shock power bills

Wilsonton public housing tenants Jack and Lyn Campbell have received a huge electricity bill.
Wilsonton public housing tenants Jack and Lyn Campbell have received a huge electricity bill. Nev Madsen

PUBLIC housing tenants along a single street in Wilsonton expect a meagre Christmas after the arrival of power bills of more than $1000.

Jack and Lyn Campbell watched their bills increase from $498 to $1085 in a single quarter since moving to Bennett St in April.

Mrs Campbell is legally blind and lives week-to-week on her pension and her husband's paltry carer's income.

When the bill arrived in her letterbox, she thought her failing eyes must have deceived her.

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"I asked Jack if there was a comma in the number," she said.

There was, and the family now faces Christmas with barely enough money to get by.

Across the road, Rita Bennett found herself in an even worse situation with a $2474 invoice.

The mother-of-three said her family had zealously limited its electricity use after years of fighting to make ends meet.

Another large electricity bill in Wilsonton. Photo Nev Madsen / The Chronicle
Another large electricity bill in Wilsonton. Photo Nev Madsen / The Chronicle Nev Madsen

She did not know whether the skyrocketing costs were attributed to Ergon or a failure to maintain her house's wiring by the Department of Housing and Public Works which handles all public housing across the state.

"My kids won't be having Christmas this year because we can't afford it," she said.

"It's the same for just about everyone on the street.

"It seems like the government is always trying to keep us poor people poor."

Two houses down, Danielle Melville was slugged with a $2086 bill, up from about $700 last quarter.

"This is the highest it's ever been," she said.

"Everyone on the street is in the same boat with bills over $1000."

Neighbour Joanne Reineker is now waiting for the bad news to arrive at her house.

"I've lived in this street for 15 years and it always seems to be getting worse," she said.

"I'm expecting the worst.

"Every time you get a little bit of money together, someone comes along to take it away."


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