Some Queensland irrigators are facing electricity price escalations in excess of 300%, unless a current inquiry recommends significant changes to tariff structures and transitional arrangements.
According to Cotton Australia’s Queensland Policy Manager, Michael Murray, the QCA completely revamped both the method for determining regulated electricity price, and the structure of tariffs last year, and for some users this has meant massive price increases are beginning to flow through.
Cotton Australia is currently preparing its submission to the Queensland Competition Authority’s Regulated Retail Electricity 2013-14 inquiry, with the submission window closing on January 7.
“In general those irrigator users that are being most affected are those that use more the 100Megawatts of electricity per year through any one meter, and those who have invested in irrigation systems with the specific aim of primarily accessing off-peak electricity,” Mr Murray said.
“When the QCA came up with their recommendation last year, they did introduce some transitional arrangements for 12 months, but with that time expiring at the end of June 2013, the full impact of these increase will be felt next financial year, unless we can successful negotiate changes,’ Mr Murray said.
“To strengthen our submission I need specific examples case examples, and while I have been able to identify a number of users in the 100MW plus category, I do need hear from users who have set up their irrigation systems to utilise off-peak,” Mr Murray said.
Last year’s Determination significantly narrowed the gap between off-peak and peak to as little as 2 cents/kw, providing no incentive to utilise off-peak, and most importantly no opportunity for irrigators to recoup any additional expenditure they incurred installing irrigation systems with the capacity to operate primarily on off-peak.
Mr Murray said for larger users (greater than 100MW per annum) the introduction of demand charges based on the peak demand incurred during any month as measured in a 30 minute period means they are facing huge increases, primarily on the basis that there electricity usage can be peaky, and not consistent over a month.
“For example, Tariff 44 is probably not bad if you use a steady supply of electricity every day of the month, but if you are an irrigator who may get three days river pumping one month, nothing for the next three, and a week one month it is a disaster,” Mr Murray said.
Any growers who believe they will be affected by these changes should contact Michael Murray on 0427 707868 or email@example.com as soon as possible.