Regional electricity customers will be able to return to Ergon after switching to another energy retailer following continued advocacy by the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) and industry members.
Legislation passed by the Queensland Government yesterday to remove the ‘non-reversion’ policy has been welcomed by QFF; however, with the change only extending to small customers (those under 100MW) it is unlikely to benefit the many agricultural businesses looking for energy price relief.
QFF President Stuart Armitage said the removal of the ‘non-reversion’ policy was the first step in securing affordable energy for farmers and regional businesses, with QFF renewing its call for the government to recognise modern agriculture and increase the small business customer threshold.
“QFF has been advocating for the small business customer threshold to be increased from 100 MWh per year to 160 MWh per year for some time. Without this, not many agricultural businesses or other small customers are going to benefit from this regulatory amendment,” Mr Armitage said.
“Currently small business customers consuming over 100MW are subjected to $/KW demand charges, significantly increasing electricity bills.”
“They are also unable to access the Queensland Government’s Affordable Energy Plan which includes access to Ergon’s Easy Pay Rewards package of annual payments of $75 for residents and $120 for small businesses.”
“Excluding many small farming and irrigation enterprises leaves them to struggle with high fixed costs and denies them access to any of the rewards packages on offer.”
“And based on current state government policy and tariff offerings, many agricultural businesses face further bill increases in excess of 50% when they are forced on to standard business demand-based tariffs in less than two years.”
“If action is not taken, unsustainable electricity price increases and lagging productivity will result in more expensive food and fibre and a loss of international competitiveness.”