THE state government has committed an additional $10 million to extend the Energy Savers Plus program, which aims to identify and implement electricity saving measures on farms.
The announcement comes as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk attempts to use electricity pricing as means of generating support at the next Queensland election.
Separate to the Energy Savers Plus program, the Palaszczuk government has pledged to limit out of control electricity prices to the average rate of inflation over the next two years. Ms Palaszczuk has also signaled Ergon customers in regional Queensland will receive rebates of $75 for households and $120 for small businesses that take up monthly billing options.
The next two increases will come on top of a of a staggering 5.1pc increase imposed this year.
Electricity prices for farmers have risen by more than 130pc since the pricing system changed nine years ago. Over the same period CPI has increased by just 21pc.
The expanded Energy Savers Plus program will include an additional 200 energy audits for agricultural customers and offer a 50pc co-contribution (capped at $20,000) towards the cost of implementing changes recommended through the audits.
LNP leader Tim Nicholls said Labor has been caught out using electricity pricing as a secret tax and was now handing some back on an election eve.
“Under Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queenslanders have never paid more for electricity and now they are being told prices will continue to rise.”
Energy Savers... does not completely solve the broader issues of electricity affordability.
“Labor is going to give struggling Queensland households a bit of cash and hope they don’t notice that they have been ripping them off.”
Queensland Farmers’ Federation president Stuart Armitage said the Energy Savers Plus program was an important resource for Queensland farmers.
“By expanding the partnership between QFF and the state government, farmers throughout the state will continue to benefit from the opportunity to identify energy savings as the sector grapples with the impact of electricity price increases,” Mr Armitage said.
“QFF is looking forward to working through the details of the expanded program with the government. The addition of an implementation bonus for farm businesses taking up the audit recommendations is a positive step, and we must continue to evolve other elements of the program too.
“An industry-led program will give greater consideration of the entire water-energy-productivity nexus that farm businesses face and we look forward to seeing the details.
“In a public debate that is so focused on supply-side energy matters, it is pleasing to see the government recognise the importance of energy efficiency and demand management in reducing energy costs.”
Mr Armitage said the program was only a piece of the puzzle in trying to solve the energy crisis gripping rural and regional Queensland.
“Energy Savers is a useful tool to help farmers proactively dampen the impact of the massive price rises we have seen, but it does not completely solve the broader issues of electricity affordability,” he said.
According to the QFF 60 per cent of the 130 farms participating in the program had or planned to implement part of the $3 million of annual energy cost savings identified in the energy efficiency audits across different industries.
The story Power price rises continue as efficiency program extended first appeared on Queensland Country Life.