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Irrigators perform the vital role of producing food and fibre for the nation as well as producing significant export income.

Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group Ltd (BRIG) has been established  to represent irrigators within the Bundaberg district across a range of commodity groups including sugarcane, grain and horticulture. 

Our Commitment

  • To ensure a fair and reasonable system exists for the charging of use and access to water for irrigation purposes;
  • To support and encourage self-management of the Bundaberg Irrigation scheme/s;
  • Develop projects and policy to ensure the efficiency, viability and sustainability of irrigators in the Bundaberg Region.

Our Experience

The Board and management of BRIG are all stakeholders and irrigators and have the resources, responsibility, maturity, infrastructure, ability and desire to deal with all issues that have impact upon us as irrigators in the Bundaberg Irrigation Area. Because we use the infrastructure and have done so since the inception of the scheme, we have a much better understanding of the system and how it operates than others do.

 

22 June 2022

BUDGET ANNOUNCEMENT UNDERWHELMING FOR REGIONS IRRIGATORS

According to Bundaberg Regional Irrigators spokesperson Dale Holliss, many of our irrigators are feeling a bit underwhelmed by Tuesday’s budget.

The water energy relationship is critical to our business and the budget does not do a lot towards ensuring that we have affordable electricity to pump the water required onto the crop.

The main energy retailer and the only network provider in our region is 100% government owned and regulated and despite the opportunity to address electricity costs in the short term there is nothing in Tuesday’s budget.

There was $30.1 million of a total $97 million to progress design, planning and early works for the Paradise Dam improvement project and a further $1 million for essential works and are pleased to see some real funding allocated to this project.

We are advised that actual remediation work on the wall is scheduled to start in 2024 and hope that it can be brought forward.


Both the Federal and State governments have committed $600 million to the project and we will be vigilant in ensuring that they not only rebuild the wall but also

  • Ensure consistency for existing nominal allocation holders, including reliability.
  • Protect and retain nominal allocations within the Bundaberg Irrigation Area.
  • Deliver alternative water infrastructure including, but not limited to, weirs and irrigation pipelines to
    facilitate future growth and ensure water security for the future.
  • Remedy the impediments (reliability, infrastructure) affecting the long-term water utilisation of this region particularly with regards to capacity of the various parts of the distribution system that will help to facilitate development and economic growth.
  • Identify and remove the impediments to the efficient and effective operation of the local water market.
 
Bundaberg’s economy is very much reliant on irrigated agriculture and having the ability to access all of the Paradise nominal allocation will improve the region’s economic sustainability.

Dale Holliss
Director
 
 
18 January 2022

SUBMISSION TO QUEENSLAND COMPETITION AUTHORITY

Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group (BRIG) was established to represent irrigators in the Bundaberg district across a range of food and fibre commodity groups.
 
The water energy nexus is not well understood outside the irrigated farming community, however water and energy are the most important inputs to our various cropping systems.
 
BRIG members farm on approximately 36,000ha and use an estimated 1,100 irrigation pumps and  associated distribution systems to irrigate a variety of crops. A significant percentage of these systems (circa 90%) are currently powered by grid supplied electricity.
 
Energy Consumers Australia (ECA) have defined the role of the grid supplied electricity system as providing comfortable homes and competitive businesses and that in order to achieve this role the system needs to be affordable, individualised and optimised.
 
Affordable
Our members are all attempting to operate competitive business and we have identified that an affordable tariff is one that has a ceiling of 16 cents per kilowatt hour. This is based on a network charge (N) not exceeding 8 cents and a retail charge not exceeding 8 cents. (GST exc).
 
In the past QCA have recommended that the CSO be paid to ERGON Network rather than ERGON retail in order to open up retail competition.
 
We acknowledge that this is outside the scope of the delegation but strongly believe it is another matter that QCA should consider.
 
We also request that QCA investigate and clearly identify the total revenue collected by the Jurisdictional Scheme components embedded in the Network charges applied to all customers to fund the Solar Bonus 44cFiT. This subsidy significantly impacts our members and our view is that it should be a separate CSO funded from Treasury, as was the case in the three years to 2019-20.
 
Individualising and Optimising Existing Tariffs
The ability to access the dynamically operated load control tariff series for irrigators (T33, T34, T60A and T60B) is a working example of optimisation and has been welcomed by our members, particularly those that produce irrigated sugarcane with systems other than furrow (flood) irrigation.
 
Agronomically sugarcane is significantly more robust than most crops and is able to sustain short periods of no irrigation better than crops such as snow peas or cut flowers. Whilst uptake of these tariffs by our cane farmers has been solid, there is reluctance by some of the horticulture farmers and cane farmers with furrow (flood) systems to use the load control options because of the potential risk of not having water at a critical time.
 
To alleviate those concerns we are currently investigating the potential for battery backup to cover periods when the Load Control is activated to see whether it is a viable option.
 
We note that Minister de Brenni has drawn particular reference to Tariff 12B (Residential TOU as having potential to be a solar soaker tariff.
 
We would request that QCA investigate the potential for Tariff 22B to become a solar soaker for irrigators and all other small business customers.
 
Including a lower day time rate for this tariff would have multiple benefits, i.e. encouraging greater energy usage during the day and in turn assisting with emerging issues associated with minimum system load, reduce network demand pressures in the evening and provide small business customers with increased tariff choices to enable improved productivity.
 
We also suggest that consideration be given to allow SAC irrigation customers that are classified as large that operate in the 100 to 160 MWh bracket be able to access this tariff.
We are willing to assist QCA, the Department and Energy Queensland in delivering this option if required.
 
Please call should you require further information or clarification.
 
Dale Holliss
Director