All steamed up: drycleaners search for an invisible mend

”As much as we don’t want to pass it on, there are limits to what costs we can absorb” … drycleaner Ulysses Schiasas expects to pay an extra $2000 a year.The next time you take your clothes to the drycleaners you might have to pay a little extra.

Small-business owners such as Ulysses Schiasas, of myvalet drycleaners, may have to pass on higher electricity prices from next month.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal says the increase will cost the average small business between $270 and $555 a year.

But Mr Schiasas expects to pay an additional $2000 annually, because his business has higher than average electricity use.

”We have a lot of machinery, and they’re on constantly from 5am to 5pm,” he said.

Mr Schiasas is wary of losing business if he increases prices, but says he has limited options.

”As much as we don’t want to pass it on, there are limits to what costs we can absorb.”

This leaves small businesses between a rock and a hard place, says the Energy Users Association of Australia. ”It’s going to make it even tougher for businesses to survive and operate,” the association’s executive director, Roman Domanski, said.

Mr Schiasas is worried customers will make less use of services such as drycleaning as they reduce spending in response to the electricity price increases.

The tribunal said rising network costs and the introduction of the carbon price were responsible for the price increases.

But Mr Domanski said the increase in pole and wire costs in NSW are ”massively exaggerated”, compared with other states. ”The businesses will often try to make the excuse that they have to replace old assets and meet growing peak demand,” he said. ”But on average, NSW assets are significantly younger that those in Victoria, but they’re getting more capital expenditure than Victorian businesses.”

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