State aircon plan ‘like a scene from Utopia’
TURNING airconditioning up to 26C will worsen workplace heat stress, which already costs companies hundreds of millions of dollars a year, say angry business bosses.
The State Government’s “Summer Prepardness Plan” to cope with peak power demand has been slammed by Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland as similar to a plot from the satirical TV show Utopia.
The plan, revealed by The Courier-Mail this week, includes asking residents and businesses to set their airconditioners to 26C or higher during heatwaves and turn off advertising and non-essential lighting and electrical equipment.
“On its face, those seem to be not significantly arduous requests. However, small businesses have deep concerns for their productivity and the impact to the economy at large,” CCIQ general manager advocacy Kate Whittle said.
Research shows the optimum office temperature for productivity is 21-23C with 20-60 per cent humidity.
“As the temperature in the office rises, productivity falls,” she said. Lost productivity due to heat stress cost the nation $6.9 billion a year, about $245 million of it in Queensland.
“It is like a scene from Utopia. Over the last decade, businesses have been slugged with charge after charge and price increase after price increase to build a gold-plated network and now we are being told not to use electricity.
“Businesses won’t know whether to laugh or cry,” Ms Whittle said.
The Government would reap $6.3 billion in profit over the next four years from state-owned corporations and “they still can’t keep the lights on if we have a hot summer”.
“The Queensland Government owns the asset, they own the problem.”
The Summer Prepardness Plan has been developed to maximise power generation and manage use to avoid load-shedding and blackouts during the hottest months.
National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb said the voluntary energy-saving measures proposed for businesses were “overkill’’.
“I won’t be encouraging retailers to turn up the aircon in hot weather. It’s a really good time to capitalise on the fact that people want to go to the shops and be in the airconditioning and it increases foot traffic for traders.”
Switching off advertising lights would also damage business, Ms Lamb warned.
“People are shopping on their phones and online more now and the reason is that they spend so much time driving to and from work. Things like billboards and illuminated shore advertising signs are incredibly important to generating business.”
Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella said: “It shouldn’t be up to business and private individuals to make these kinds of sacrifices due to the Government’s poor electricity grid management and poor planning.”
PICTURED: Rob Sitch, front centre, with the cast of ABC-TV comedy Utopia.