Power bill hikes hurting local businesses
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Power bill hikes hurting local businesses

Crippling power price rises of well over 50 per cent are hurting businesses across East Gippsland, threatening their ongoing viability and employment levels, despite Labor stating in November last year rises would only be in the vicinity of four per cent.   This was the feedback received by Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who recently sought the views of over 150 East Gippsland businesses from Heyfield to Mallacoota on electricity price rises.

The Bairnsdale RSL, which is a significant employer, reported the biggest whack to its budget.  

“We are facing a 95% rise in our electricity costs, which adds $80,000 to the annual energy bill,” said Shane Pendergast, Manager of the Bairnsdale RSL.

“Another business is facing a 58% rise,” Mr Bull said.  

“There were also a large number of smaller businesses who reported price rises of between 20-40% over the past year and it is similar with households.

“One of our bigger operators, who engaged a broker to act on their behalf for the best deal, questioned why they were being quoted 30-40% rises and was told ‘you can blame this on Hazelwood closing down’.

“The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio told Parliament on November 9, 2016, that the impact of Hazelwood’s closure would be around the order of a four per cent increase. Clearly that’s not the experience in East Gippsland and it is clearly not the situation state-wide.  

“As I have acknowledged on many occasions, Hazelwood’s closure was inevitable, but it should have been a staged closure to both maintain employment and keep power prices to a manageable level during the transition,” Mr Bull said.

“Now we have Australia’s Energy Market Operator warning we face electricity shortfalls in the summer ahead. 

“Labor has also set a very ambitious Renewable Energy Target, that to be achieved, will likely need another power station to close.

“I support the consideration of a new High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) power station if one of the remaining older Latrobe Valley generators is to close.

“China has well over 200 new technology coal generation units under construction or planned, followed by India which is building over 100. Indonesia is planning a further 32, while Germany, Japan and South Africa are also building multiple new state-of-the-art coal fired power stations.

“It makes sense for us to have a plan for a new high efficiency low emissions plant to replace the future decommissioning of an old technology plant, well before that happens,” Mr Bull said.


Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, discusses the impact of Bairnsdale RSL’s $80,000 increase in electricity costs with Manager Shane Pendergast.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017