Vegetable growers in Queensland could face dramatic hikes in the cost of electricity over the next year if recommendations by the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) are realised.

Late last month the QCA recommended that overall tariffs on electricity should increase, stating that rises in the underlying costs of supply, including network charges, were responsible for the proposed hike in electricity prices.
“Agriculture has been identified as one of the four pillars of the Queensland economy and these recommendations would send deep cracks into this pillar,” said AUSVEG Spokesperson, Hugh Gurney.
AUSVEG is the National Peak Industry Body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.
The QCA has proposed a 16 per cent increase in the flat-rate tariff and a 12 per cent increase in the time-of-use tariff for small businesses in 2013-14. These have been referred to as “transitional” charges, designed to rebalance the fixed and variable tariff that was frozen for consumers at 2011-12 levels.
“Even a single digit price increase would have dire ramifications for horticultural producers in Queensland and AUSVEG is calling for sanity to prevail regarding electricity prices,” said Mr Gurney.
“Affordable electricity is vital for Australian growers, who rely on it not only to drive their irrigation pumps but also to run the large refrigeration facilities required to keep produce cool and light and power the sheds where vegetables are packed prior to distribution to cities. Due to variable trends in demand for production, vegetable growers do not use electricity in regular patterns and as a result are hit with higher electricity bills,” said Mr Gurney.
“The sins of past governments cannot jeopardise the future of one of Queensland’s most important industries,” said Mr Gurney.
Vegetable growers have reported that their farms’ electricity costs are estimated to have increased by 100 per cent over the past six years.
“Ergon energy have called for all existing irrigation tariffs to be extended by a minimum of two years, a move which would be welcomed by growers as an important first step towards minimising the increases in electricity costs in the short term,” said Mr Gurney.
“This is an issue being reflected across many states of Australia. Over summer, growers in the nation’s south had to heavily irrigate due to severe temperatures and a lack of rain, so it is likely that they will see significantly high power bills come the next quarter.”
“Any increases in electricity costs will make it even harder for growers to conduct business,” said Mr Gurney.
The QCA’s final determination will be released by 31 May.
MEDIA CONTACT: Hugh Gurney, Spokesperson, AUSVEG
Phone: (03) 9822 0388 Mobile: 0410 047 432 E-mail: