Push to cap water and power bill rises

Water and energy bills rising by more than twice the inflation rate would be disallowed if a private member's bill succeeds in the South Australian Parliament.

Family First MLC Dennis Hood said bills had been skyrocketing and many people now struggled to pay them.

Mr Hood said infrastructure, such as the desalination plant in Adelaide, had to be paid for but consumers were being hit too hard and too often with rises.

"Those costs can be paid off over time and that's how you pay for any infrastructure," he said.

"To simply raise costs by 25 per cent in the case of water, as we've seen recently, is just ridiculous.

"I mean I've had a gentleman say to me that he's actually having cold showers now because of the price of heating his water and, you know, this is 21st century Australia and we expect better than that." Mr Hood wants price rises considered by a parliamentary committee or the Essential Services Commission.

"This will give us direct control and direct responsibility so that when power prices go up or when water or gas prices go up and constituents complain to MPs then MPs are responsible to respond," he said.

"Look I think this is well and truly something that will at the very least curb the dramatic increases we've seen of late." SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis warned any push to regulate utility prices could create a risk of power blackouts.

Mr Koutsantonis said the state could not set the prices because it did not own the assets.

"[If] we start artificially setting prices or price caps, what you'll see is private investors withdrawing from that market," he said.

"What you'll get then is you'll get rolling blackouts, you won't get investment, you won't get a continuity of supply that we have now." Mr Koutsantonis said he doubted the private member's bill would win parliamentary backing.

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