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Energy Consumers Australia (ECA) Grant
Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group successfully applied to Energy Consumers Australia for a grant to develop research and advocacy materials on the feasibility of rural electricity users and irrigators going off grid.
The ECA grant allows BRIG to engage Engineroom Infrastructure Consulting Pty Ltd to analyse the feasibility of rural electricity users in Queensland, and in particular irrigators, going off-grid.
For many rural electricity users, the falling cost of solar PV, batteries, and diesel and the rising cost of on-grid supply may make it practical for users now or in the near future to provide their own supply via off-grid options. Irrigators as a group may be more feasibly able to move off-grid than other rural users because of their pattern of use of electricity for irrigation, requirements for reliability, and the availability of land for installing solar PV.
The project will develop an excel-based model that compares the cost of on-grid and off-grid supply options for a range of tariffs typically used by irrigators (tariff 22A, 62, 65, and 66). The model will focus on the tariffs faced by irrigators but will be able to be adapted in the future to tariffs used by other rural electricity users. Model assumptions will be clearly specified and will be able to be varied to account for changes in assumptions over time.
Users will be able to use the model to determine if it is more cost-effective to switch from on-grid supply to off-grid supply to meet their needs, taking into account both price and reliability outcomes under both options.
We hope to have the model functioning by the end of December 2016.
Visit by Michael Hart, Shadow Minister for Energy and Water
Burnett MP Stephen Bennett hosted a visit by Michael Hart who is the Shadow Minister for Energy and Water. Mr Bennett and Mr Hart were advised that in the 2014/2015 year ERGON and the Queensland Government sucked close to 1 billion dollars ($991,000,000) in profit from regional Queensland and evaporated it between Ann and George Streets in Brisbane.
Allan Dingle and Kelvin Griffin highlighted the ridiculous situation where successive State Government power pricing policies have resulted in it being viable to go off grid. This economic vandalism will result in the demise of the network unless the pricing policies are changed to end the death spiral.
The range of policies that could be employed to achieve the 33% reduction in electricity costs based on 2014/15 financial year, include but are not limited to, the following:
Moving the Customer Service obligation (CSO) from Ergon retail to the network distributor to assist with the introduction of retail competition.
New Notice for Excess dimension vehicles
Signs are still required when travelling on critical roads and at intersecting critical and major roads. For any growers requiring signs Bundaberg CANEGROWERS has them available for members for $228.80 (GST inclusive) for a full sign kit. Additional signs for the intersecting road can be purchased for $165 (GST inclusive).
For more information about the Notices, travel conditions and sign requirements please contact Matt Leighton on 4151 2555 or 0437 084 035. A copy of the new notice can be found here.
For more information read the full article on Page 3 of our August newsletter.
ARC UP Presentation to NQ ROC Group
ARC UP TO END RIP-OFF ELECTRICITY PRICES
A UNITED community voice is demanding an end to rip-off electricity prices in regional Queensland, with the “ARC UP” campaign targeting the State Government’s use of Ergon Energy and Powerlink as cash cows.
Its demand: to immediately CUT electricity prices for all Ergon consumers by a minimum 33 per cent followed by a complete review of the current pricing practices with the overall goal of returning Queensland to being the state that has the cheapest power in Australia. ARC UP joint spokesperson Debra Burden said “Affordable electricity will send a clear message that Queensland is open for business.”
The campaign started off by being driven by irrigation and farming groups, say soaring power prices - tipped to double again in the next five years - are financially strangling Queensland’s regional business, farmers and households.
Another rise is due within months. Government regulator the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) is now recommending increases in July for large and small business, farmers and households, with the largest rise set to be up to 11.5 per cent.
The ARC UP campaign is demanding immediate action from the Palaszczuk Government, which rode into victory in 2015 on the promise of keeping energy assets in public ownership. The State owns 100 per cent of both Ergon Energy, the power utility that holds a monopoly in regional Queensland, and Powerlink, which runs the state’s electricity transmission network.
The State Government has the power to drop prices by 33% today.
Mr Shane Knuth, Katter’s Australian Party State Member for Dalrymple in regional Queensland, is supporting the community group by sponsoring a Private Member’s Bill in State Parliament.
“Since 2007, electricity prices in Queensland have increased by 96 per cent and electricity prices have been identified as having the largest impact on the cost of living,” Mr Knuth said “A significant reduction on current charges is not only possible, but absolutely essential for our future prosperity.
“Prices can be cut without job losses, reduced service levels or slower responses to natural disasters,” he said.
Hugh Grant who sits on the Consumer Challenge Panel, set up by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), said Ergon Energy and Powerlink were reaping financial benefits beyond the dreams of any private operation, with “the Queensland networks’ prices around twice the efficient level".
Dale Holliss, ARC UP joint spokesperson and Manager of the Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group, said five years of talking has delivered little.
“What we now know is that Governments have the power to cut prices but hide behind acronyms in order to confuse and confound the public.
By playing us for fools the State Government is sitting on its hands as families, businesses and farmers lose everything due to electricity price gouging.
“In Bundaberg and surrounding regions we are considered to be a ‘food bowl’, but our irrigating farmers are being crippled by outrageous power prices. They cannot afford to water crops because of the electricity costs and many are having to walk away,” he said.
“Compared to 2007, farmers in Queensland are paying 96% more for the electricity needed to run their irrigation pumps. Ergon’s power prices today are completely unsustainable, and continuing to rise for farmers by around 10.3 per cent in July? It’s crazy. It’s costing jobs, costing communities, and it’s destroying what should be one of the most successful sectors in the state - agribusiness.”
“Soon this regions greatest export won’t be food, it’ll be jobs.
The Alliance of Electricity Consumers (AEC), in a report to the Queensland Parliament last year, said: “Between 2006/7 and 2015/16 the network component of an average household bill has increased by more than 300 per cent, while wholesale energy prices have remained relatively stable.”
“Last financial year the Queensland Government stripped $3.2 billion dollars in dividends from Ergon and PowerLink. The Government has used electricity as a cash cow for too long and in doing so has damaged the economy, cost jobs and negatively impacted the voters of Queensland. Our united group is instigating the ARC UP campaign for the benefit of all consumers in regional Queensland” said Debra Burden ARC Up joint spokesperson and General Manager of Canegrowers Burdekin.
What can you do?
For more information, please contact either joint spokesperson:
Dale Holliss on 0417 009 236 or Debra Burden on 0417 709 435
Projects and Events
The “Smartcane BMP” Program is an opportunity for sugarcane growers throughout the state to showcase their farming practices. Smartcane BMP Facilitators in your local CANEGROWERS office are available to assist growers to register on the Smartcane BMP website and to complete assessment questionnaires about various aspects of their farming practices. Growers who have registered on Smartcane BMP and completed the assessments are invited to seek assistance from their local facilitator to achieve Smartcane BMP accreditation. Facilitated training and assistance sessions are held at CANEGROWERS office each Thursday morning. For further details on the Smartcane BMP Program click here.
CANEGROWERS Insurance Scheme - owned by growers, working for growers, was commenced in 2012 to look after our members’ insurance needs. Wide Bay Authorised Representative Colin Mobbs has extensive experience in looking after the insurance needs of the rural sector and has assisted many of our members to ensure that their insurance cover is tailored to their requirements. Col provides a personalised on-farm service to growers, primarily servicing CGU’s Canepol insurance policies. He also has access to a broad range of other insurance products and alternative underwriters so that appropriate insurance cover can be obtained for all aspects of members’ businesses at the best price.
To contact Col to discuss your insurance needs call 4151 2555 or on mobile on 0418 891 783.
Bundaberg CANEGROWERS Ltd
Our Mission is to provide representation, leadership and services and promote unity in the interest of our members.
Our Goals are to provide an effective and efficient service through a focus on members' key concerns within a changing environment. To maximise member and industry proceeds by marketing current and future sugar production through a structure that is transparent and accountable to the industry. To ensure that industry growth is managed and market driven within a sustainable sugar industry. To ensure environmentally and financially sustainable production through managing and coordinating inputs and resources.
Our Vision is to ensure a secure and profitable future for Bundaberg CANEGROWERS members.