ALBURY residents are having their power disconnected at a higher rate than those in Wodonga, a new report shows.
St Vincent de Paul Society analysed electricity disconnection data from July 2012 to July 2015 in a bid to track trends.
The information was assessed by postcode for Victoria, NSW, South Australia and south-east Queensland.
It shows Albury was the 12th highest rural or regional area where customers have been disconnected twice, with 208 cases.
Lavington was 14th of the list and had the eighth highest disconnection rate in the state. St Vincent de Paul social policy unit manager Gavin Dufty said electricity was more expensive in NSW than Victoria.
But he said the cost of other household bills – like food, petrol and schooling costs – were causing people to fall behind on their electricity payments.
“As you follow the Murray River, up and down from the twin cities, you see hot spots where houses have been disconnected,” he said.
“There are small income families with low housing stress, which suggests they’re retirees.
“A lot of people may head to the river to retire or semi retire.”
Mr Dufty said while housing costs may be lower in such areas, there were higher costs for food and other staples.
“Disconnection itself is costly – it’s often disconnecting not one person but a family,” he said.
“It’s quite devastating on a household.
“There’s a charge to get reconnected and people may have to replace all the food in their refrigerator.”
The research was undertaken to ensure government concessions and support were appropriately targeted.
Albury Wodonga Foodshare regional manager Peter Matthews said there had been an increase in people requiring food from the service.
“There certainly seems to be an increase in power suspensions because people can’t afford to pay their power bills,” he said.
“The money is running out in families, so they have to turn to welfare agencies.
“Unfortunately the demand for food and other support services is going up.”
Mr Matthews said electricity bills rose during winter, which could divert money from food.