Rising energy bills continue to hurt regional small businesses

Wednesday 31 May, 2017

Small businesses in regional Queensland face another $100 hike in their electricity bills following an unexpected increase determined by the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA).

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) noted that the main small business tariff increases would have been 8.2 per cent, from $2449 to $2649.

But CCIQ General Manager of Advocacy Kate Whittle welcomed State Government intervention today, as it moved to reduce the rise back to 4.1 per cent and, on average, $100 extra for businesses.

Ms Whittle said small businesses had been hit hard for several years with soaring energy costs.

The QCA’s draft determination had projected a 1 per cent increase – but the final figure of 8.2 per cent had come as a shock to the business community.

“Small businesses across Queensland have been crippled by ever increasing electricity prices for the past decade,” Ms Whittle said.

“Last year, Queensland small businesses suffered a 11 to 15 per cent increase, depending on their tariff.”

“CCIQ had previously lobbied the State Government to take immediate action, including removal of the Solar Bonus Scheme to provide immediate relief.

“In a show of support for small businesses, the government has heeded CCIQ advice and stepped in to half the increase by immediately suspending the Solar Bonus Scheme cost to consumers and absorbing the burden of cost for the next three years.”

Ms Whittle said this was an important first step by the government, but stressed that more needed be done to help small businesses, who cited rising energy bills as the biggest impact on growth.

“This intervention won’t reduce bills; it will just reduce the increase. Every increase brings small businesses closer to shutting their doors for good,” she said.

“Regional small businesses are still facing a $100 rise this year.

“More has to be done to put downward pressure on electricity prices. This intervention, although a good start, does not address the real problem.

“Both State and Federal Governments need to stop the political point-scoring and work together on a joint approach to bringing costs down.”

Ms Whittle said CCIQ will continue advocating for small businesses on this issue and working with governments at all levels.

CCIQ’s 2017 State Budget Submission, to be released tomorrow, focuses on the issue of rising electricity prices and calls for more action to be taken, including a reduction of revenue taken from the distribution and transmission providers, Ergon and Energex.

QCA will release the revised final determination on June 16, taking in the State Government measures.


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