Call for study of electricity pricing
THE NSW Farmers’ Association is calling for an inquiry into uncompetitive practices by electricity retailers in regional NSW and a $20 million agriculture-electricity innovation fund.
NSW Farmers president Derek Schoen said it was important for government to recognise that the electricity challenge in the bush was very different to that in the cities.
“The one-size-fits-all policy approach to electricity has left regional and rural users worse off.
“Energy and electricity is a significant input cost for farmers. A typical irrigator will spend over $100,000 on electricity per annum, which is around 30–40% of costs,” Mr Schoen said.
Electricity prices in the past decade have doubled, and electricity contracts negotiated in the last six months have gone up by 20–30%. On top of these rises, regional users pay 25% more than users in metropolitan areas.
“There is no good reason why the typical user in the bush is paying 25% more for electricity than someone in Sydney or Newcastle,” Mr Schoen said.
He said myriad reviews had not dealt with the issue.
“It seems our politicians and policymakers are content for regional users to pay more for electricity,” he said.
He said there were more cost-effective ways to provide electricity to regional users.
“There is a great opportunity to harness renewables and storage technologies, not only to reduce costs and improve reliability but build capacity in these communities.
“The technology is getting to a point where regional communities can take control of their own energy destiny.”
The discussion paper recommends a $20 million fund to identify and pilot projects that could reduce network costs by hundreds of millions of dollars.