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Irrigators' anger over electricity price hike

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QUEENSLAND Competition Authority (QCA) officials could walk into a firestorm today as they try to explain recommended electricity price rises to irrigators.

The QCA has recommended irrigators pay 17.5% more for their electricity.

But Bundaberg Canegrowers chairman Allan Dingle said the price rise was another blow to an industry already suffering from natural disasters.

Mr Dingle said Canegrowers had invited all their members to attend the meeting at the Brothers Club and they strongly suggested they be there.

"We're saying it's just ridiculous," he said.

Mr Dingle said he expected some robust comments at the meeting.

"People need to go out there and voice their concerns," he said.

Mr Dingle said one of the biggest costs for irrigators was electricity.

In a message to its members, Bundaberg Canegrowers has urged them to contact their local MPs and tell them how much a 17.5% increase would hurt them.

"We can't afford to keep paying power bills that have gone up 100% in the past few years," he said.

The recommended price rise comes on top of the news that cane growers in the Wide Bay would be out of pocket by up to $144 million after flooding devastated their crops.

Hardest hit have been growers in the Maryborough, Bundaberg and Childers districts.

And in another blow to the industry, Bundaberg Sugar has been refused an exemption from the carbon tax if it runs over the threshold.

The company has been forced to start burning coal after supplies of bagasse it had stockpiled to avoid the carbon tax were inundated in the flood.

General manager operations David Pickering said the company was faced with a tough task to avoid paying the tax.

Topics:  canegrowers, queensland competition authority




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