Australia has gone from having a competitive advantage in energy costs to being one of the most expensive countries in the world. This significant change has impacted the productivity and profitability of many irrigated and intensified farm businesses.
Regulated by the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA), tariffs in the Ergon network area, which have focused on irrigation needs, are increasingly difficult to access. Electricity tariffs in Australia have a complex configuration, with a specific access requirements and multiple electricity metering points making it difficult for irrigators and agribusinesses to choose the optimal tariff. Despite the QCA recognising that education around electricity tariffs is required to assist irrigators in the complex decision-making process, no strategies have been proposed at this time leaving many farmers in the dark.
In order to better understand how irrigators consider and choose electricity tariffs for their agricultural operations, the Queensland Farmers' Federation and the University of Queensland, with funding from Energy Consumers Australia, have started an electricity tariff research study. The study aims to assist irrigators in the decision-making process and support greater inclusion of irrigators' needs in the design of more flexible electricity tariffs. It will provide farmers with tools to better select and manage electricity tariffs that lead to reductions in electricity costs and opportunities to manage demand.
The project partners are seeking irrigators from across Queensland and NSW to be involved in the project by undertaking a confidential 30-minute phone or Zoom interview with researchers from the University of Queensland during September and October. The questions will focus on electricity tariffs, options to change them, energy consumption and generation systems, with participating irrigators receiving a $40 gift card. Interested participants are encouraged to complete the Expression of Interest form on the QFF website and upload a recent electricity bill, and a member of the QFF Energy Savers team will be in touch. With more information and education, irrigators can access affordable electricity and improve their energy efficiency and productivity into the future.