Stuart Armitage has welcomed a state government trial for business electricity needs in regional QLD.
Stuart Armitage has welcomed a state government trial for business electricity needs in regional QLD. Will Hunter

Electricity trials fight price hike

THE rising cost of electricity continues to be the number once problem for the intensive agriculture sector.

And being a cotton and grain farmer of 21 years himself, Stuart Armitage knows all about unsustainable hikes in power prices and the toll they take on businesses.

So the news of the State Governments announcement of a trial to help farmers better understand business electricity needs and demands in regional Queensland comes as music to the Queensland Farmers Federation (QFF) president's ears.

The trial will give farmers the chance to test off-peak and demand-based electricity tariffs under the Regional Business Support Package.

QFF, industry members, Canegrowers and Cotton Australia have been involved in planning the trial.

Mr Armitage said the intensive agriculture sector hoped the tariff trial would provide some of the information needed to determine what the real impacts of load controlled and seasonal demand tariffs were, as current agricultural tariffs were phased out.

"While the trial should start to inform some of the knowledge gaps, a more holistic and comprehensive transition package is still needed,' he said.

"Across Queensland there are over 42,000 regional customers that will be transitioning to cost-reflective (demand) electricity tariffs by 1 July 2020.

"Industry remains concerned that there is still a prevailing disconnect with government messaging with impending electricity tariff and price changes.”

Mr Armitage said a large number of farm businesses remained unaware of the changing tariffs and how this will impact their businesses post July 2020.

"Many customers currently on transitional and obsolete tariffs are facing price increases of over 50 per cent when they move to cost-reflective tariffs in 2020. This will further challenge the viability of many farm business customers,” he said.

"QFF and its industry members will continue to work constructively with government to ensure our sector is ready for the tariff transition in 2020.

Mr Armitage said it was unacceptable the energy debate had become "a vexed political issue” when practical long term solutions were needed to ensure electricity affordability.

Interested farmers are encouraged to contact Ergon to participate in the trial. Visit ergon.com.au for more info.



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