‘Dirty diesel’ may be option

October 07, 2017

A feed mill owner from Kyabram has warned 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 in Colbinabbin for more than three years and is just one of the many rural business owners 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 re-negotiate his electricity contract 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 re-negotiated price came 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.

WWF Australia listed the power station as the least carbon efficient in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, and environmentalists welcomed its closure.

But Mr Meyer said heavy users of electricity had been left with the costs of the closure, which 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 re-negotiate 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 had heard plenty of stories like Mr Meyer’s from across regional Victoria.

‘‘My greatest concern is the impact that these prices 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 she supported, but said little planning had been done to handle the shutdown of Hazelwood.

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

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio blamed the Federal Government and its handling of energy policy for rapid increases, and not the closure of Hazelwood.

‘‘It’s created uncertainty in the sector and reduced investor confidence and that’s what’s driving up electricity bills,’’ Ms D’Ambrosio said.

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