EN­ERGY PLAN SLAMMED

Central Queensland News - - FRONT PAGE - Louise Shan­non Louise.Shan­non@ news­re­gional­me­dia.com.au

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.

PHOTO: KRIS­TEN BOOTH

PRICE RELIEF: HEME com­pany man­ager Kym Hell­muth has wel­comed the State Govern­ment’s Af­ford­able En­ergy Plan but not ev­ery­one feels the same way.

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