A prominent Riverina citizen has called on state government to re-regulate electricity costs to combat rising energy bills.
2016 Citizen of the Year recipient Kate Lonergan took the NSW Coalition to task on Wednesday morning, fronting national media at her Wills Street home with an impassioned plea.
"We've lived in Coota for 55 years but in the last few years it's just gone crazy," Mrs Lonergan said.
"We're on a pension and we're finding it really hard to pay our accounts on time."
Mrs Lonergan told Fairfax Media her energy bills had increased by approximately 20 per cent between July 2016 and July 2017.
"It's a lot when you've got to pay other things as well too," she said.
We're lucky that we've got our own home and but if you're paying your home off and you've got a pension, it's just crazy.Former Citizen of the Year Kate Lonergan
"You just can't do it."
The long-time local said she feared for young families and noticed more residents had been frequenting the Cootamundra soup kitchen on a Wednesday night.
"We've got people who need to come in because they don't have enough money to pay their electricity and they need to keep warm,” she said.
“It's affecting the whole community.”
Country Labor candidate for Cootamundra Charlie Sheahan used the opportunity to launch an attack on Nationals policy in the region.
“We were told back 2015 that there would be massive job losses across Essential Energy and across rural and regional NSW,” he said.
“Now to find that we have pensioners who are struggling to warm their houses because of the costs they’re paying for electricity is just unacceptable.”