OPIN­ION Soaring en­ergy costs hit hard

Shepparton News - Country News - - OPINION -

Shep­par­ton East’s Rade­vski Cool­stores is dig­ging deeper and deeper to meet the sky­rock­et­ing cost of elec­tric­ity.

The fam­ily-owned busi­ness has been grow­ing, stor­ing and pack­ing fruit lo­cally for more than 50 years, but the in­crease in en­ergy costs this year is con­fronting.

They’re in the process of re­new­ing en­ergy con­tracts for 2018 and have two quotes — one $185 000 higher than last year and the other an in­crease of $195 000.

They have no choice but to ab­sorb the in­crease, but it means there’s less money to em­ploy staff or ex­pand the busi­ness. The Rade­vskis aren’t alone. Ky­val­ley Dairy, near Kyabram, has had a 50 per cent in­crease in elec­tric­ity costs.

Pro­ces­sors like Mur­ray Goul­burn have ex­pe­ri­enced price rises well above 50 per cent this year and ex­pect sim­i­lar again in the year ahead.

Col­binab­bin’s VicFeeds, which sup­plies feed to dairy farm­ers in the Goul­burn Val­ley and Gipp­s­land, faced an un­ex­pected 110 per cent in­crease in elec­tric­ity costs last month af­ter the ex­ist­ing con­tract ex­pired.

Re­gional busi­nesses are bleed­ing cash — just to keep the lights on.

State-funded coun­try hospi­tals are also feel­ing the pinch.

Kyabram District Health Ser­vice’s bills are ex­pected to in­crease 80 per cent this year, up $160 000 on last year’s costs.

At Be­nalla Health, elec­tric­ity costs in­creased by more than 85 per cent this fi­nan­cial year and gas has gone up 74 per cent.

Hos­pi­tal aux­il­iary cake sales won’t cover these soaring prices.

The An­drews Govern­ment won’t com­mit to fund­ing the in­crease, leav­ing coun­try hospi­tals with se­ri­ous con­cerns about the im­pact these soaring costs will have on ser­vices.

Af­ter fail­ing to stop Hazel­wood’s clo­sure — and the loss of 750 jobs and 22 per cent of Vic­to­ria’s elec­tric­ity sup­ply — Daniel An­drews is des­per­ate to hand­ball his mess to the Com­mon­wealth.

Un­like La­bor, the Vic­to­rian Na­tion­als un­der­stand Vic­to­ria needs a se­cure baseload power sup­ply.

The Na­tion­als here in Vic­to­ria have an­nounced a com­mit­ment to work on the right pol­icy set­tings and in­vest­ment con­di­tions to sup­port build­ing a high ef­fi­ciency, low emis­sions (HELE) power plant in the La­trobe Val­ley.

An elected Lib­eral-Na­tion­als govern­ment has com­mit­ted to se­cur­ing baseload power at Yal­lourn and Loy Yang power sta­tions, keep­ing the lights on and se­cur­ing lo­cal jobs.

La­bor’s go-it-alone VRET would be scrapped and in­stead we would sup­port a na­tional tran­si­tion to cleaner en­ergy.

And we won’t put ide­ol­ogy ahead of en­ergy af­ford­abil­ity and se­cu­rity. — Peter Walsh Vic­to­rian Na­tion­als leader

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