Shock for Bundy business that employs 100+ workers
THE squeaky wheel gets the grease is the proverb a Bundaberg company is going by after it says its pleas fell on deaf ears with the state.
Bundaberg Walkers has a 130 years business history in the Rum City, one it hopes will stick around for another 130 years, but general manager Enio Troiani holds grave concerns as power prices continue to climb.
He met with Hinkler MP Keith Pitt and Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor to voice his concerns yesterday.
Walking around the global manufacturing company on the bank of the Burnett River, Mr Troiani said if the Queensland Government didn't look at the cost of power more seriously there may not be a choice about Walkers staying in Bundaberg.
"At the end of the day we may not have a choice because if we don't do anything we are going to be in a very bad position,” he said.
The business primarily makes sugar milling equipment and has between 100 and 120 local employees.
Its yearly power bill comes to about $1 million, one of the businesses biggest cost.
Mr Troiani said businesses in other countries paid 10c a kilowatt hour while Walkers currently paid 28c and that price was projected to reach about 48c/kwh by the end of June next year.
"Energy prices are a killer for us,” he said.
He said power was charged on two different tariffs and the firm could make it work, but the state was looking to remove one of the tariffs and replace it with demand tariffs.
Demand tariff charges are based on both power demand on the network and the total amount of electricity used by the customer.
He said if the company was to start paying demand charge it would blow its power bill out of the water.
Mr Troiani said the company had been advised to change to diesel generation to help offset the cost of power.
"We are two tariffs and we can make that work,” he said.
"They say the solution is to put 5000 kilowatts of diesel generation here.
"We are in the middle of town, on the river. Diesel generation - how is that a good thing?”
He said Walkers had tried to work with the state and power supplier and adjust the tariffs, but he said it was not something they can do.
The company installed solar panels, which have paid for themselves already, but doesn't have enough land to increase the solar to meet its needs.
- Government responds
THE Palaszczuk Government is placing downward pressure on power bills, according to Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Anthony Lynham.
Dr Lynham said the independent Queensland Competition Authority had been gradually phasing out obsolete retail tariffs for businesses in regional Queensland since 2012.
He said these tariffs were less than the actual costs of supplying electricity.
"The government recognises that some customers will face challenges adjusting to standard business tariffs,” he said.
"That's why we offer business a range of programs, including a $10 million Regional Business Support Package and a $20 million Business Energy Savers Program.”
Dr Lynham said Walkers Engineering was participating in the Large Customer Adjustment Trial, part of the government's Regional Business Support Package.
"Last year they have received a free energy audit under the program, and may be eligible for up to $500,000 from government to implement the recommendations of their free energy audit,” Dr Lynham said.
He said the state had the lowest power prices nationally.