Thanks for nothing - farmers ignored in power price cuts

Thanks for nothing - farmers ignored in power price cuts
May 31 2019

Farmers in Queensland relying on irrigation are angry the State Government has once again ignored them in the latest Queensland Competition Authority announcement on electricity prices.

“Lower electricity tariffs have been announced today for residential and business customers but in a cruel blow existing farming and irrigation tariffs have been left out of any price relief,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said.

“The southern farming regions of Queensland in the grip of what can only be described as drought conditions and are about to start harvesting a reduced crop.

“They have been irrigating through the summer months where usually there would be rain and growers are seeing power bills in excess of $30,000 just to keep their crop alive with no relief in sight.

“With the world sugar price also below the cost of production for Australian growers, being excluded from today’s relief is a cruel blow.”

Adding to the insult is that sugarcane growers know that part of every bill they pay includes an amount for something that is not needed.

“Around 40% of growers’ electricity bills are network charges with are structured around the need to alleviate congestion,” Mr Galligan said. “But the reality is that regional networks have spare capacity, not congestion.

“So struggling growers are paying for future network upgrades that are not needed!

"While it is aware of this the QCA says this concern should be directed to the Australian Energy Regulator as part of its distribution pricing determination process.

“So round and round we go again with no agency or government taking responsibility – it is very frustrating!”

CANEGROWERS has been calling on Energy Queensland to design modern and efficient network tariffs that reflect the reality of providing power to farms and is urging the Queensland and Australian governments to prioritise action which alleviates the huge impost electricity costs place on food and fibre producers.

“A first step would be to dust off and adopt last year’s Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommendations.

“The ACCC found that over the past decade electricity users in Queensland have paid more than they should have for electricity at the cost of the state’s international competitiveness. 

“Ahead of the Queensland State Budget on 11 June, CANEGROWERS calls on the Queensland government to take up the ACCC’s recommendation to write down the value of the Ergon and Energex regulated asset bases as a first step.

“Over the past decade, the Queensland government has taken more from electricity users than it should have. Giving back some of the money that should never have been taken in the first place will give some relief to irrigators and also lift the productivity and profitability of businesses across Queensland.”