QCA offers no bright spark for agriculture

The Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) released its final determination on 2018-19 regulated retail electricity prices for regional Queensland today, again ignoring farmers and other regional businesses on transitional and obsolete tariffs by not recommending network electricity price savings be passed on.

Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) President Stuart Armitage said that while there was some good news for regional households who would see typical bills fall by 1.3%, and small businesses on tariff 20 who will see a 3.4% drop, there was no relief for farming businesses on transitional and obsolete tariffs.

“While the reductions for regional households and some small businesses are good news, they hardly roll-back the increases from last year let alone offer any real price relief,” Mr Armitage said.

“And it is very disappointing that the QCA has maintained the 2017-18 price levels for transitional and obsolete tariffs, the tariffs that many farming businesses are still on, despite QCA acknowledging that Ergon’s network charges and generation costs are declining.”

“Irrigation electricity tariffs in Queensland have risen a minimum of 136% over the past decade, and for some more than 200%, while CPI has increased by just 24% over the same period. Yet today, we did not even see a one per cent relief in irrigation and some business tariffs.”

“Many regional customers face further bill increases in excess of 50% when they are forced on to standard tariffs mid-2020.”

“Last year there were 698 small business disconnections by Ergon Retail – a substantial increase in the 384 disconnections recorded in 2015-16. This year, we have seen over 200 more small regional business disconnections – a major contributor to this decline has been the high cost of electricity.”

“Downward pressure on electricity prices must be across the board,” said Mr Armitage.

Source: Queensland Farmers Federation