Call for study of elec­tric­ity pric­ing

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - Find A -

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.

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