Power and gas disconnections up sharply

Almost 10,000 South Australian power customers were disconnected last financial year for failing to pay their bills.

The annual energy market performance report of the Essential Services Commission said it was a 34 per cent rise on the year before.

The number of disconnections for non-payment of gas bills rose by 62 per cent.

Commission CEO Paul Kerin said tough economic times and price rises were to blame.

"The report covered 2011-12 [when] electricity prices rose by 17.7 per cent at the beginning of that period," he said.

"That was largely due to network charges.

There have been subsequent changes such as the introduction of the carbon tax which came at the end of the '11-12 year." A welfare group said it was alarmed by the big jump in electricity and gas disconnections.

Ross Womersley from the Council of Social Service urged the Government to further increase concessions for low-income earners.

"Many people are choosing not to reconnect because they simply don't feel like they can afford [to] and so they're operating their households without electricity any more, using candles," he said.

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