The National Farmers Federation (NFF) says the National Electricity Market (NEM) is broken, and farmers are “leaving it in droves”.
By: Clint Jasper
Source: ABC Rural
While the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has revealed retail electricity prices have risen by 63 per cent since 2007, irrigators have previously told the ABC their bills had risen by more than 100 per cent over the same period.
Across a range of commodity groups, farmers are looking to renewable energy sources to help them get out of the NEM, but the high cost of battery storage means they cannot leave it completely.
NFF manager of natural resources policy Jack Knowles agreed with the ACCC’s conclusion that much of the rise in electricity cost comes from a lack of competition in the market.
“But some of it is also from the inaction on climate and energy policy at the national level,” she said.
Investment certainty needed
New South Wales dairy farmer Adrian Drury will partner with solar investment company Solar Bay to help generate electricity on his 450-cow robotic dairy near Taree.
Solar Bay funds and installs the panels and sells the cheap electricity to the user, a move that will see Mr Drury’s $41,000 annual electricity bill cut by nearly half.
Mr Drury said he was waiting for battery storage to get cheaper so he could get off the grid completely.
“This is just part of the future, you have to become more self-sustainable,” he said.
“If poles and wires are going to keep adding in costs, then we’ve got to turn around and look after ourselves.”
Ms Knowles said if the government did not commit to the Clean Energy Target (CET) then another “long term, durable” policy needed to replace it.
“NFF has long said that to ensure we have affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity into the future that we need some form of technology-neutral, market-based mechanism,” she said.
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenburg argued the CET would not be needed because the cost of renewables was decreasing every year on its own.
But the CEO of Farmers for Climate Action, Verity Morgan-Schmidt, told the ABC at the launch of FCA’s Victorian branch that investment certainty was needed to ensure renewable costs continued to decrease.
“The economics are really starting to speak for themselves and renewables are winning out all the time now,” she said.
“What we need to see is the government providing the policy certainty to allow for that continued investment.”