Consumers hit hard in every way by power price rises

John Cochrane says dairy farmers will be knocked flat by the increase.
John Cochrane says dairy farmers will be knocked flat by the increase. Tanya Easterby

MAJOR electricity price increases will hit consumers more than once when they come into effect next month.

In addition to a reported estimate of $268 extra a year for a median Queensland household, we will also pay more for all our goods and services that require electricity in their production and delivery - all our food, for example, and its refrigeration, storage and sale.

All services use electricity to some extent also, for lighting and air conditioning.

The 22.6% hike for a median three-person household will mean electricity bills of nearly $1500 a year for many households.

Dairy farmer John Cochrane said he was stunned at the news and food wholesaler Charlie Horne said he hoped the increase would not be quite as bad as feared.

"There's not many of us left now," dairy farmer John Cochrane said.

Commenting on the huge announced price increase for vital electricity supplies, he said farmers faced huge bills for irrigation, refrigeration, tools and lighting.

"Now they'll be getting out even quicker," he said.

His comments were backed by the Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation, which yesterday said the new price rises would "compound challenges for the dairy industry".

He said the industry was already reeling from the impacts of "the supermarket milk price war, reduced milk prices and natural disaster impacts".

Echoing the fears expressed for all farmers by the Queensland Farmers Federation, QDO president Brian Tessmann said a large component of many farming power bills was a fixed cost which could not be avoided.

"The industry is heavily reliant on electricity for milking cows, cooling and processing milk," he said.

QFF CEO Dan Galligan said the impacts ranged well into the tens of thousands of dollars a year for some farms.

The group, which represents intensive agriculture and irrigation farmers, said horticulture producers would face a 12.5% rise in one of their tariffs and could easily be paying an extra $25,000 a year each.

Canegrowers would face increases from $5000 to $25,000 a year, with similar increases affecting other intensive producers of cotton, seedlings, pork, chicken, eggs, flowers and farmed fish.

Channon St laundromat owner Ross Caulfield said he was glad he had recently installed digitally adjustable driers which would allow him to make the smallest necessary adjustments to keep the driers running at a profit.

"We only just put our prices up for the first time in seven years.

But the new gear allows us to track costs and adjust times to allow for increases."

All agreed it would be a big challenge to businesses trying to maintain moderate prices.

Premier Campbell Newman reportedly told one news organisation that consumers would now be paying for his government's partial freeze on power tariffs last year.

He said the government could not afford to provide power price relief without cutting services and infrastructure expected by most Queenslanders.

He said he wanted to make sure power networks were operating at optimum efficiency and said he would be pushing for the electricity corporations to accept lower profits.

Energy Minister Mark McArdle said conservation schemes had contributed, along with the Carbon Tax, 18.9% towards the increase.

But Greens spokesman Charles Worringham said the Queensland Competition Authority had ignored acknowledged savings from the move towards household solar panels.

Gympie Times

Topics:  canegrowers dairy farmers electricity bills electricity prices queensland dairyfarmers' organisation

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