Electricity a major election concern
GROWERS remain frustrated at ever-increasing electricity costs. Despite “noise” in political circles, very little seems to be happening. As prices continue to go up and infrastructure continues to be called out as inadequate, there is no clear strategy to incorporate renewable energy sources. The current approach is devoid of any planning or guidelines and the pursuit of large-scale solar farms is damaging our industry. This is unacceptable.
Horticulture growers have a wide variety of on-farm electricity requirements to cater for their highly perishable commodities. These processes include powering irrigation pumps, large-scale refrigerators and cooling technologies, air and water cleaning, lighting, conveyor systems, as well as running processing machinery to get products market ready. Although the applications of these processes vary between farm businesses, the enormous collective costs associated with operating the equipment involved remains the same.
Our growers embrace a whole-of-farm energy use approach including water, irrigation and on-farm processing. This approach is essential if we are to address the unsustainable electricity price increases in Queensland. Increasing electricity costs are negatively impacting investment decisions by our growers and putting pressure on the engagement of labour.
The State Government’s Energy Savers program has demonstrated there is sector-wide interest in implementing energy efficient technologies, and we commend the government for that investment. However, future extended programs must be fully integrated to accommodate all electricity, water and productivity outcomes on-farm.
It is clear from the “take-up” of the Energy Savers Program that horticulture growers are not waiting around on the promise of eventual price relief in order to maintain their businesses viability and keep the cost of fresh food affordable for families. However, on-farm solutions can only go so far, and the delivery of urgently needed structural change and reform across the electricity industry by government is essential to ensure growers are not carrying the burden themselves. Growcom will be working with the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) to hold all political parties to account on the important issue of electricity pricing and affordability.