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.
- 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.
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.
SUBMISSION TO QUEENSLAND COMPETITION AUTHORITY
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.
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.
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.
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 are willing to assist QCA, the Department and Energy Queensland in delivering this option if required.
Director / Secretary