THE tail end of winter means a second hard-hitting gas bill for Wimmera residents.
Horsham resident Andrew Sostheim, who had previously spoken with the Wimmera Mail-Times about his concerns, said nothing had changed since 2019.
"It's been ongoing," he said.
"It was about 2015 when we first started looking into how we could fix this."
Mr Sostheim said it's been frustrating.
"The only change has been an increase in the gas prices," he said.
"There is just no competition.
"If you ring up an energy comparison site, they tell you they can't help you and its that way for all of regional Victoria."
Mr Sostheim said given COVID-19 and all the stress that entails, it's a "kick in the guts" when nothing changes about the gas monopoly.
"The state government thinks Victoria stops at Ballarat," he said.
Mr Sostheim's last gas bill was almost one thousand dollars for the quarter but said he was more concerned about renters who can't try to move to solar or electric to save costs.
"They don't have that opportunity, they're stuck," he said.
"People's usage would be going up with the stay at home rules. "And the prices have gone up as well."
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Mr Sostheim said he was surprised other companies wouldn't want to offer services in the area.
"If another retailer came into the market and offered any sort of discount, they would be amazed how many customers they would pick up," he said.
"Every gas user would jump at the chance."
Energy Australia is the sole gas provider in the area, including Ararat, Stawell and Horsham municipalities. Further out locations, such as Gerang Gerung, are still using gas bottles.
EnergyAustralia does not own the pipeline. Gas Pipelines Victoria owns it.
Energy Australia pays a fee to transport gas to customers residing in the Wimmera region. Other retailers can provide offers into the Wimmera market, should they choose to do so.
A gas bill is broken into three parts, according to Energy Australia: network costs, gas price, and retail operating costs.
Darryl Hunter is incredibly concerned about the restrictions Stawell and Wimmera residents face with utility companies.
"You haven't got the option to negotiate," he said.
"You can't do anything about your gas bill."
Mostly, he worries about his parents, who face an $800 gas bill in the wintertime - there is simply no way they can go without heat.
"It's the fact we only have one supplier and we can't negotiate better deals," Mr Hunter said.
"In other parts of Victoria, Energy Australia give discounts on gas usage during the year. I don't think it's fair."
Mr Hunter said he has spoken with Energy Australia many times only to be told the cost of the utility bill was needed to recoup costs in supply gas to the area.
"This has being going on for several years now, everywhere else people have got the power to negotiate a better deal or change companies," he said.
"People in the Wimmera don't have that power."
The Victorian Government set up the arrangement with Gas Pipeline Victoria (GPV) in 1998.
Soon after, they separated its energy business into three entities: Kinetik, Ikon and Energy 21. EnergyAustralia (at the time, TRUenergy) acquired Kinetik in 1999. Kinetik held the arrangement with GPV, and that is still in place today.
An Energy Australia spokesperson said for the Wimmera region, on average, it provides gas to households at the same price as it costs us to buy gas.
However, the cost of transportation is around double that of neighbouring regions (the network component).
"We have a variety of options available for customers who might be struggling to meet their energy bills - we encourage those customers to make contact with us," the spokesperson said.
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