Melbourne Water Swings to Loss on Desalination Plant Rebate

Melbourne Water Corp., the state government-owned supplier to water retailers, swung to a loss as it repaid A$310.8 million ($295 million) to customers it overcharged amid delays to the construction of Australia’s largest desalination plant.

The supplier had a net loss after tax of A$30.1 million in the 12 months to June 30, from after tax profit of A$270 million the previous year, when it collected payments to cover some costs related to commissioning of the A$3.5 billion Wonthaggi plant, it said today in its annual report.

The “operating environment continues to provide significant challenges to the business,” the report said. “These include responding to the financial impacts of the Victorian desalination plant.”

Melbourne Water scrapped plans to return payments to customers over a five-year period on “strong community feedback,” amid delays in construction of the reverse-osmosis project in Wonthaggi, near Melbourne, which will eventually be able to supply as much as 150 billion liters (40 billion gallons) a year, it said in the statement.

The company held its prices at fiscal 2012 levels in the 12 months to June 30 and also offered a rebate. It said it’s now considering how to pass on costs from the plant’s construction from 2016.

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