5.1% power price hike adds to farmers' pain

16th June 2017 5:26 PM
ARC UP: Campaign co-founders Phil Marano, of Burdekin Canegrowers, and Dale Holliss of Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group ARC UP: Campaign co-founders Phil Marano, of Burdekin Canegrowers, and Dale Holliss of Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group Contributed

FARMERS are despairing after an announcement yesterday that electricity prices for irrigated agriculture will increase by up to 5.1%.

Canegrowers CEO Dan Galligan said the Queensland Competition Authority's decision was "better than the outrageous 10.3% rise recommended in the QCA's original determination” but that any rise was "indefensible”.

"Let's be clear, this is not a price cut by the QCA,” Mr Galligan said.

"It is merely a smaller increase to power prices that are already horrendously high.

"The revised determination comes after an intervention by the State Government and in doing so the Government has shown it can do something about power prices and it needs to do more.

"These unsustainably and unnecessarily high power prices will continue to strangle economic activity and destroy jobs across regional Queensland if unchecked.”

The price rise has justified a move by Bundaberg Regional Irrigators to launch a project to develop a solar-based energy system to efficiently irrigate crops, and guidelines including cost-benefit analyses to help growers make the switch.

"If the price of power continues in its ever-upward spiral - and it has increased 126% since 2008 - we will be out of business in 2020 when the change in tariff structures occurs,” BRI secretary Dale Holliss said.

Over the same period CPI has increased by just 21%.

Bundaberg farmers like Dean Cayley have abandoned the grid for solar power to try and cut cost in the long term, after he said the cost was "killing him”.

"The QCA announcement merely reduces the size of the pain and for some producers it delays the inevitable,” Mr Galligan said.