Small Business fears power plan will not reduce energy prices

Tuesday 6 June, 2017

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) says State Government pre-Budget plans to invest in energy supply is a step in the right direction, but will not reduce electricity prices for small businesses in the short to medium term.

CCIQ welcomed the announcement yesterday and hoped it would address Queensland’s serious challenges for energy cost and supply. However, it warned the government against raising expectations beyond the true scope of the plan.

CCIQ General Manager of Advocacy Kate Whittle said the suite of energy policies will still see an increase in energy prices for small businesses this year.

“More than 550 businesses have been disconnected from the market this year, following an 11.2 per cent increase in electricity prices, with a further increase of 4.1 per cent expected next financial year,” she said.

“CCIQ welcomes the investment and infrastructure plans in northern Queensland, however businesses will not see any cost relief for some time.

“While these measures may create some jobs, they will not reduce prices. We may see downward pressure, but market conditions also need to change for the positive.”

Ms Whittle noted the government “action plan” was announced ahead of the long-awaited Finkel Report, Friday’s COAG meeting and prior to any feasibility studies – yet promised thousands of jobs and a reduction of electricity prices.

“Treasurer Curtis Pitt has been quoted as saying this will not bring prices down, just reduce the increases,” she said.

“We have had a systemic failure by all levels of governments and all parties. We need a plan that will modernise the national grid and will reduce soaring costs. Small businesses need more than visions, they need action.”

CCIQ urged the State and Federal Government to put politics aside and come up with an effective plan to solve the energy crisis, driven by the principle of putting downward pressure on prices.

“Queensland is allowing its renewable energy target to dictate energy infrastructure decisions, compromising affordability, security and reliability.

“It would be fantastic to achieve a 50 per cent reduction of emissions, but at this rate we’ll only achieve it because 50 per cent of small businesses can no longer afford to turn on the lights.”

Ms Whittle said CCIQ disputed government claims that it had saved small businesses $90 on their power bills.

“It is the same as going to the shops and buying a pair of shoes for $50 off – you haven’t saved $50, you’ve just spent less than what you thought you would have to,” she said.

CCIQ’s State Budget Submission calls on the State Government to:

•           Introduce retail competition to regional Queensland

•           Implement education initiatives to put the power in businesses hands to effect change

•           Reduce return on revenue from transmission and distribution networks

•           End the Solar Bonus Scheme

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