19 July, 2017
Courtesy of the Courier Mail
QUEENSLAND businesses are being hit with multimillion-dollar increases in electricity costs, with some putting the hikes at 80 per cent.
The revelation follows a request by Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg for an investigation into Queensland’s generators over possible price gouging.
Gladstone’s Boyne Smelters revealed its aluminium production cutbacks caused by its inability to obtain affordable electricity had reached 18,000 tonnes, costing more than $40 million, and would likely reach more than $100 million for the year.
Mining giant Glencore was hit with a 100 per cent increase over three years, threatening the future of its north Queensland operations, and Sun Metals complained of a five-fold increase and announced its own solar farm to offset costs.
Boyne Smelters site general manager Joe Rea said it had no plans to return to full production. “There has been no firm indication that wholesale electricity prices in Queensland will return to a sustainable level for our smelter in the near to midterm,’’ he said.
At the smaller end of the spectrum, Maroochydore’s Fresh Meats has been hit with a $50,000 increase to its bill.
That represents a rise of between 50 and 60 per cent. The company’s spokeswoman Jenni Parry said she wanted the electricity industry to think more about the people being affected by these increases and the impact on employees “instead of lining their own pockets’’.
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the first problem was the Queensland Government, which owned 65 per cent of the generators.
But the State Government said the national market was broken and aimless because the Federal Government could not deliver a viable policy, particularly on the issue of renewables, which meant business would not invest.