Power prices set to rise for regional Queenslanders
POWER prices for households and businesses are going up.
The Queensland Competition Authority released its final decision on regulated retail prices for regional Queensland yesterday.
The independent body initially determined the annual bill for a typical customer on the main residential tariff would be set to increase by 7.1% from $1490 to $1595 for 2017-18.
But the Queensland Government immediately announced it would intervene in the decision.
Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the QCA's determination was unacceptable.
"We will not tolerate a return to... massive electricity price surges," Mr Pitt said.
"We will invest $770 million over three years to back consumers and lower electricity prices from what the QCA has announced."
He said the intervention would reduce household bill increases in regional Queensland from 7.1 per cent down to 3.3 per cent, an ongoing estimated saving of $51 per year.
"This is also a good result for a typical small business, which will now see a much smaller increase of 4.1 per cent instead of the QCA's 8.2 per cent."
Opposition shadow agriculture spokesman Dale Last nevertheless called the rise in prices "a kick in the guts for farmers who are already on their knees struggling with these costs".
"Today's increase... is the direct result of Labor's decision to slug power companies with billions of dollars of debt," Mr Last said.
Despite the State Government's intervention the average power bill for residents will still rise about $49 and about $102 for businesses.
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QCA chair Professor Roy Green said the regulated price increase was primarily the result of substantial increases in wholesale energy costs driven by "a projected tightening in the demand-supply balance within the National Electricity Market".
"A number of factor have contributed to this tightening, including the increased demand from electricity-intensive in-field gas compression associated with the LNG export facilities," he said.
Power costs have become a big issue in the Gladstone and central Queensland communities.
A change.org petition was launched calling on more alternative choices to Ergon Energy for central Queenslanders in the face of rising costs.
At the time Ergon Energy said electricity prices were set by the QCA.
A number of businesses have cited rising power costs as a major problem, including Boyne Smelter Limited who said power costs were the main reason they had to sack workers and cut production earlier this year.
An electricity price hike in mid-January saw the spot market price rocket to more than $13,000MWph.