LETTER: What would we pay if CSO payment ceased?

I GUESS electricity customers and privately owned businesses must be shaking their heads in disbelief to read in TCM 7/10, the $829,000 salary level paid to Ergon Energy CEO Ian McLeod, including a $23,000 bonus payment.

This payment and bonus, of course, is despite Ergon's $596 million generous handout (CSO) by the Queensland Government that has boosted Ergon's after-tax profit to $696 million.

It's notable to mention that prior to the 2013/14 Stakeholders Annual Report, this multi-million-dollar handout was always shown as an additional amount of revenue, clearly visible with revenue from Ergon's electricity sales. And noted as necessary to maintain uniform tariff charges in regional Queensland.

Since 13/14 this payment has been shifted to now show a reduction in Ergon's network costs, and again this year the $596 million has been subtracted from Ergon's network costs of $848 million to show a network cost of only $252 million.

And regardless of the accounting change, one could be excused for thinking that this huge handout is now not so visible as it used to be for the many previous years.

Finally, given our already very high cost of electricity and the State Government handout of $596 million given to Ergon to ensure that electricity charges for us regional Queenslanders were the same as for customers in the south-east corner; I wonder what percentage increase in electricity costs would regional customers face if the Queensland Government, for whatever reason, ceased to provide a $596 million CSO payment to Ergon Energy?

- John Blanchfield, Frenchville

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