PRICE RISE: Canegrowers CEO Dan Galligan.
PRICE RISE: Canegrowers CEO Dan Galligan.

Power price hikes are crippling canegrowers

CANEGROWERS says the State Government's timely intervention to reduce outrageous regulated retail power price rises from the Queensland Competition Authority proves it could curb soaring costs if it wanted to.

Canegrowers CEO Dan Galligan said even with the government intervention on Thursday, power prices were unsustainable for many regional Queenslanders.

The Queensland Competition Authority released its final decision on regulated retail prices for regional Queensland, revealing the annual bill for a typical customer on the main residential tariff was set to increase by 7.1% from $1490 to $1595 for 2017-18.

For a customer on the main small business tariff, the yearly increase was expected to be 8.2%, from $2449 to $2649.

The government intervened to slash those figures by more than half.

"The Premier's intervention means power prices paid by irrigators will increase by 5% from July 1,” Mr Galligan said.

"It means electricity costs for farmers who grow food and fibre for Australians and export markets have gone up more than 130% since the pricing system changed nine years ago.”

In Federal Parliament on Tuesday, Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt laid the blame of rising electricity prices on state Labor.

"It has become a massive problem in the region, not just for residents but also for businesses and, in particular, for those in our agricultural sector such as canegrowers,” he said in parliament.

Mr Pitt told the story of third-generation Bundaberg canefarmer Dean Cayley whose electricity prices have increased by 126% since 2008.

"He is not sure there will be a fourth generation of cane farmers in his family, due to the continued pressure of electricity prices,” he said.

"He says that it is out of control, and it is not just for farmers; it is across all rural production. Mr Cayley's electricity bill for the 90-day period October 7, 2016 to January, 5 2017 was $20,307.”

Mr Pitt said the Coalition was helping people with a one-off energy assistance payment for pensioners.



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