Businesses feeling the pinch

October 12, 2017

Vic Feeds owner Alan Meyer is among businesspeople frustrated with the rising cost of electricity.

A feed mill owner from Kyabram has warned that he will need to ditch the electricity grid, and install a dirty diesel generator, if electricity prices continue to rise.

Alan Meyer has owned and operated Vic Feeds at Colbinabbin for more than three years, and is just one of the many rural business owners that have been stung by recent price hikes.

It has been a successful business, which employs seven workers and supplies farmers across Gippsland and the Goulburn Valley.

When it came time to renegotiate his electricity contract earlier this year he was expecting a mild hike, but he was not prepared for what he got.

‘‘We got a 110 per cent increase in one go,’’ Mr Meyer said.

‘‘It’s about $51000 for just the increase, it is the equivalent of putting on another person.’’

The renegotiated price came out about the time of the closure of Latrobe Valley’s Hazelwood Power Station, which provided up to 25 per cent of the state’s base load power.

The power station was listed by WWF Australia as the least carbon efficient in the OECD, and its closure was welcomed by environmentalists.

But Mr Meyer said that heavy users of electricity had been left with the costs of the closure that could cost jobs.

‘‘Over the last 12 years there has been no direction on energy, both parties are to blame,’’ he said.

‘‘The major businesses will be more likely to go offshore.’’

When it comes to renegotiate his power contract again, most likely in a few years, he warned he would go off-grid with a diesel generator if it rose again.

‘‘It is ridiculous, it is the dirtiest way of creating power,’’ he said.

State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said she had heard plenty if stories like Mr Meyer’s from across regional Victoria.

‘‘My greatest concern is the impact that these price rises will have on employment in our community,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘I don’t think we have touched the tip of that iceberg.’’

She pointed to the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station, and the Victorian Government’s policy of legislating its own renewable energy target for the large increases.

A transition to renewable energy was something that she supported, but she said little planning had been done to handle the showdown of Hazelwood.

‘‘Experts have said this is a flawed policy, they say we need to have a national framework,’’ she said.

She said stories like Mr Myer’s were ‘‘frighteningly common’’ across regional Victoria.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio has been contacted for comment.

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