Small business Benalla Energy prices

Benalla warned to brace for blackouts over summer

17 November 2017

Benalla businesses and households could face power blackouts this summer as a consequence of the Andrews Labor Government’s failure to secure baseload power supplies.

The warning comes after revelations diesel generators are being installed in Victoria because of a predicted shortfall in energy this summer.

Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan said Victoria lost 22 per cent or 1600 megawatts of its energy supplies as a result of the closure of Hazelwood in March this year.

“Before Hazelwood closed, Victoria’s Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio told Parliament that power prices would increase by no more than four per cent and there would be no shortfall in energy supplies,” Ms Ryan said.

“That was a complete furphy. Local businesses have reported massive bill increases since Hazelwood closed and we now face the crazy situation where Victoria is installing diesel generators to get us through summer because we don’t have enough baseload energy.

“Not only are diesel generators a worse outcome for the environment, but they will also require half a million litres of diesel each day to operate.”

Local seed supply business Mirfak Pty Ltd faced a 100 per cent increase in their bill when their contract expired in August this year. They ultimately signed a new contract with an 11 per cent increase for peak power, however off-peak charges still increased by 55 per cent.

Director Mark Murphy said increasing electricity prices would stifle business growth with most small businesses unable to recoup costs or pass them on.

Fruits N Fare owners Rick and Di Aumann have installed solar panels to help combat the increase in energy costs and shop around every six months just to get a better deal.

“Many small businesses are just staying afloat.  Costs have skyrocketed and they are cutting into any profits you were making,” Mrs Aumann said.

“My biggest fear is who is going to cover any losses in the event of a blackout?  Aside from what we would lose from having to close during the blackout, we would lose thousands in lost produce.  Even a blackout for an hour could mean a loss of $6,000. If it ever happens we would have to close our doors.

“This isn’t just us - it would affect all small businesses who cannot afford a backup power system.”

Ms Ryan said Nationals leader Peter Walsh had raised concerns in Parliament this week about the possibility of a diesel shortage, given Victoria only had about two weeks’ supply on hand at any one time.

“Under questioning Minister D’Ambrosio was unable to say what impact the generators’ consumption of diesel would mean for the availability or price of diesel,” Ms Ryan said.

“These generators will require half a million litres of diesel every day they run. There is a risk that we will experience diesel shortages as a consequence which is a real worry given we are about to head into grain harvest.”

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