ENERGY PLAN SLAMMED
A STATE Government decision this week to introduce its Affordable Energy Plan for regional Queenslanders in January has been slammed by the State Member for Gregory as “a farce”.
The new $2 billion plan, outlined by Energy Minister Mark Bailey, promises cuts of $125 a year from regional household bills and $120 off small business bills and aims to ensure power bills for regional homes and small business are kept below average inflation over the next two years.
“Because we own our electricity assets, we are able to reinvest dividends to provide relief for regional Queenslanders,” Mr Bailey said.
“That’s why we can offer further rebates for businesses and families.”
However Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar said the “so-called ‘raft of measures’ to help keep the cost of electricity down” would save people “a measly 96 cents per week”.
He said the document “disguised” that over the past three years electricity prices have soared.
“The reality is, the electricity crisis started with Beattie and Bligh when Labor sold off electricity retailers and gold-plated the network in southeast Queensland,” he said.
Mr Millar said State Government efforts to pursue an “unrealistic”
50 per cent renewable energy target had seen wholesale electricity prices rise by more than 70 per cent.
“We need a reliable, accessible energy source with base-load power – like a new coal-fired power station in north Queensland – not a government that continues to push electricity prices to record levels and secretly imposes energy taxes,” he said.
But Mr Bailey said customers would benefit from the new measures, which included annual discounts of $75 for Ergon regional households and $120 for small businesses that take up direct debit payment options as part of an “Easy Pay Reward”.
There would be an Asset Ownership Dividend of $50 a year for every household bill over the next two years and $200 off bills a year for households that participate in the expansion of the Energy Savvy program.
Emerald company HEME company manager Kym Hellmuth said she welcomed “any assistance in lowering the exorbitant cost of electricity”.
“We are always looking to lower our overheads, be a bit more competitive with our pricing and pass the savings onto our customers to gain a competitive advantage,” Ms Hellmuth said.
She said HEME – finalists this year for the CHDC Manufacturer of the Year, Hall of Fame and People’s Choice for Customer Service awards – believed it was crucial to provide the best deal for customers, who “look at the bottom line”.
Ms Hellmuth said government rebates provided a “good kickstart” and motivated businesses to consider their procedures and thoroughly explore rebate options.
“It should be one of the primary things you do,” she said.
“Most businesses would be well aware of their costs for their supply of electricity.
“People just need to investigate their options and see where can they can be utilised and implement in their business strategy.”
Customers in regional Queensland can log on to the Ergon website to register their interest in the “Easy Pay Reward” initiative.
PRICE RELIEF: HEME company manager Kym Hellmuth has welcomed the State Government’s Affordable Energy Plan but not everyone feels the same way.