Farmers want to see an election focus on solutions, not point scoring, for the power price crisis – so says the Agricultural Industries Energy Task force.
The Ag Energy Taskforce is an informal group of Agricultural peak bodies, convened by the National Irrigators’ Council, and involving the National, Queensland and NSW Farmers, commodity groups and regional irrigators.
The call to candidates is to make the electricity market work like a genuine market; eliminate excessive network profit margins (that are costing Australia jobs); and back farmers moving to renewable power with storage.
The bottom line is current energy prices are too high for Australia to be competitive with the rest of the world. That’s a sad state of affairs for a country with so many natural advantages in agriculture and energy. We believe that there should be a price ceiling of 16 cents /kWh.
Without change we are going to see production fall and, in at least one area, an entire irrigation scheme close-down.
Farmers are keen to move into renewables. The sector has the biggest take up of CEFC grants, funding hundreds of on and off grid solar installations – with many more funded solely by the farmer.
But solar, without storage or diesel, doesn’t work for everyone and the increasingly high cost of power from the grid is having the bizarre outcome of seeing some producers going off grid and instead installing diesel generators using imported fossil fuels.
We’ve seen a decade of policy confusion resulting in bizarre outcomes. This election must see the end of the energy and climate wars, we need policy certainty.
Written by Steve Whan, CEO, National Irrigators Council on behalf of Ag Energy Taskforce