Tariff tool to help manage farm electricity costs

A new tool developed by CANEGROWERS is helping sugarcane growers make informed decisions about electricity tariffs for the coming financial year.

“Electricity is one of the biggest input costs for the 60% of Queensland’s sugarcane which is irrigated,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “An annual electricity bill for an average grower can be in the order of $22,000 to $28,000 with some bigger producers paying more than $50,000.

“While continuing to urge the regulators and network operators to resolve underlying structural issues which are keeping prices high, CANEGROWERS has also been advocating for more cost-effective tariff options and we hope this tool can assist growers make informed decisions from what is available in regional Queensland.”

The spreadsheet tool is based on the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) draft price determinations for 2021-22 and is available to Members on the CANEGROWERS website.

“Using an individual farm’s pumping equipment and how it’s used, the tool will calculate the best pricing option for a grower, hopefully so they can maximise the crop benefit of every dollar they spend on electricity,” Mr Galligan said.

“We’ve made the tool available ahead of the QCA’s final determination on prices. If we wait for the pricing to be confirmed, early in June, growers will have to make rushed decisions for the 2021-22 year.”

For sugarcane growers using less than 100MWh per year on irrigation, there can be significant savings to be achieved by actively looking at the electricity tariffs available.

For example, based on the prices contained in the QCA draft and depending on usage patterns, irrigators presently using T62, T65 or T66 could make significant cost savings by switching to T20 rather than using the new limited access obsolete tariffs (T62A, T65A and T66A).

“Through CANEGROWERS solutions-focused advocacy, and with the valuable assistance of growers involved in a trial, there is now a new tariff option for growers able to work with the possibility that supply may be interrupted,” Mr Galligan said.

While there may be a cost of upgrading meters in changing to T34, the electricity cost savings that follow could see a payback period for this investment of just two years. For some the payback period may be shorter.

“While the tariffs for 2021-22 are not yet finalised, I urge irrigators to prepare by accessing the tool and putting their own usage information into it to consider what tariff option may suit their business,” Mr Galligan said. “If you need assistance give your local CANEGROWERS office a call.”

Source: CANEGROWERS