POWER PAIN: Red Shed Seafood owner Tony Mills.
POWER PAIN: Red Shed Seafood owner Tony Mills. Eliza Goetze

Big bills leave Shed 'in the red'

SKYROCKETING power prices are hurting small businesses across the Bundaberg region.

The latest outcry comes from down by the banks of the Burnett River.

"We've been through the two floods so I've been in the red, that's why it's painted the red shed,” Red Shed Seafood's Tony Mills jokes.

But the size of his power bills is not a laughing matter for the Mills family.

"In 13 years it's quadrupled,” Mr Mills said. "Our power bill used to be $987 a month, now it's $4,000.

"I've just put $68,000 worth of solar panels on the roof and that works really well when the sun's out - but recently my provider put my tariff up 6 or 7 cents, which is about 25%.

"So the effort I've made to reduce my power (use) - I have fridges and freezers, you can't turn them off when you're dealing with fish - the tariff is starting to creep into the incentive I've made to try and reduce my bill.”

He said he was in no position to aid Bundaberg's high levels of unemployment.

"Every time I cut costs I work longer hours myself; my kids come into work after uni.”

In town ahead of the imminent state election, Shadow Minister for Fair Trading Jarrod Bleijie stopped in at the Red Shed to meet local media, claiming that under a Labor government the struggle for businesses like the Red Shed was "only going to get worse”.

Flanked by LNP candidate for Bundaberg David Batt and Burnett MP Stephen Bennett, Mr Bleijie spruiked the Opposition's "real plan” to bring prices down "by building a new, clean, efficient, privately owned coal-fired power station in North Queensland to bring competition to the market.

"Tony and Margeurite are paying for the Palaszczuk government's shifting of debt (on to power companies).”

Bundaberg MP Leanne Donaldson defended the government's record on electricity prices, highlighting the state's increase of 3.3% compared with up to 20% in other states in a National Energy Market "broken (by) Federal policy paralysis”.

"The LNP's only energy plan has been to sell our power assets placing our energy security at risk.”

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