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Farmers encouraged to join new tariff trials

Published: 22 Mar 2017 10:06am

Farmers in regional Queensland have less than a fortnight left to apply to be part of a trial of off-peak and demand-based electricity tariffs.

Wholesale Channels Manager Brian Elmer said Ergon Energy was recruiting up to 200 farmers to participate in three separate trials that would help in developing future tariffs for primary producers.

“We aim to achieve a diverse and representative selection in each trial group to assist us better understand the potential for offering controlled load and seasonal demand tariffs as an alternative to the current transitional agricultural tariffs that expire in 2020,” he said.

Mr Elmer said the first trial would involve the use of a controlled load tariff to supply key farm loads, including irrigation pumps and ancillary farm equipment.

“The aim is to understand the implications for farms in switching from tariffs with power available 24/7 to a controlled load tariff with limited hours of supply at a lower price,” he said.

“For the purposes of this trial, participants will be placed on Tariff 33, an economy tariff used by many households for hot water systems, pool pumps and other equipment that does not need continuous power.”

Mr Elmer said the second group would trial the use of Tariff 24, a new seasonal time of use demand tariff.

“For many primary producers, knowing whether to move to a demand tariff can be difficult because their current billing and metering does not provide enough information for an accurate tariff analysis,” he said.

“It is expected some customers will make immediate savings on this demand tariff but, given the uncertainty, participants in this group will have a safety net to ensure they pay no more than what they would have on their current tariff.”

Mr Elmer said the third group would remain on their current tariffs, but would receive a free digital electricity meter that records energy consumption and demand in 30 minute intervals.

“Their usage data will help Ergon improve its understanding of the load profiles of agricultural customers under current arrangements and also allow for comparisons with the other two trial groups,” he said.

Mr Elmer said the first two trials would run until June next year and the third trial until June 2019.

“All participants will receive a free digital meter and, at completion of the trial, they can choose to receive detailed analysis to help them transition to the most suitable tariff option,” he said.

The trials are the first initiative under the Queensland Government’s $10 million Regional Business Support Package, being delivered in conjunction with Energy Queensland, the Queensland Farmers’ Federation, Canegrowers and Cotton Australia.

Further information about the trials is available from agriculture industry bodies, Ergon or online at ergon.com.au/agtarifftrial.

Application forms are available from the same website and must be submitted by April 3.

Media Contact: Rod Rehbein
Phone: 4153 9813 or 0407 031 072