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Electricity Price Hikes - QCA figures fail fairness test

by Warren Males, CANEGROWERS

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Power price anger drives Bundaberg grower to on farm solar power

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ARC UP Presentation to NQ ROC Group

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ARC UP TO END RIP-OFF ELECTRICITY PRICES

ARCupA 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.

How exorbitant electricity prices in Queensland are hurting YOU and why you should join the ARC UP campaign:

  • Electricity is the No.1 financial worry for ALL households in Queensland, ranking at 79 per cent (Choice Consumer Pulse Survey - September 2015).
  • 60 per cent of ALL people are worried about paying their next electricity bill (Consumer group the Alliance of Electricity Consumers (AEC)).
  • Business is more concerned about electricity prices than ANY OTHER issue in Queensland (Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland).
  • Small businesses are NOT REINVESTING, as a result of high power bills, in their businesses or taking on new employees (AEC).
  • ·         Farmers are TURNING OFF their irrigation pumps, with 8000 of the 62,000 jobs in the Queensland agriculture sector set to be lost unless power prices are reversed (CANEGROWERS Queensland, Cotton Australia and Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group).
  • Soaring power prices are impacting on the costs to RATEPAYERS of local authority rates, water AND sewerage and transport reliant on electricity such as trains (AEC). 

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?

  • Show your support for Katter’s Australian Party and MP Shane Knuth’s Private Member Bill by writing to the Premier and your  local MP and the media
  • Like the ARC UP Facebook page and add your voice as an individual or group. Tell your story. Share the page  #arcup  
  • Write to the  Premier and your local MPs.  You can download a template letter from the ARC UP  Facebook page. Download the ARC UP poster and display it in your window, at work, in your car window
  • Add #arcup to your Twitter account and target the Premier and local MPs, plus the media
  • Ask your friends, family, colleagues and local groups to support the campaign

 

For more information, please contact either joint spokesperson:

Dale Holliss  on 0417 009 236   or Debra Burden  on 0417 709 435

 

Projects and Events

SMARTCANE BMP

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.

Insurance

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.

 

 Irrigation Planning and Management Project

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.


  

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As at: Wed, June 29, 2016 - 10:10 PM
Temp: 12.0°C
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Wind Dir: S
Wind Speed: 11kph
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Pressure: 1025.0hpa
Rainfall (since 9am): 0.0mm

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