Easing power struggle

October 12, 2017

Gouge director Rob Priestly with Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell and Shadow Energy Minister David Southwick.

POWER PAIN: Gouge director Rob Priestly showed local member Wendy Lovell and Shadow Energy Minister David Southwick how energy prices have hit the business.

Shadow Energy Minister David Southwick has promised that a new policy would help major Goulburn Valley employers like Gouge keep its power prices down.

Gouge Linen and Garment Services has been hit with rapidly increasing power bills in recent years, which director Rob Priestly says have been a major hit for the business.

‘‘Our electricity prices are up by about $100000 a year and our gas costs are up about $200000 a year,’’ Mr Priestly said.

The company is a local success story which employs the majority of its 190 people at its Mooroopna facility.

Mr Southwick announced a relaxation of law around gas exploration if the Coalition wins the Victorian elections, due for next year.

Currently there is a moratorium on onshore gas exploration until 2020, something that he blames for rapidly increasing power bills across the state.

‘‘We have had a government that is hell-bent on focusing on one type of energy — renewable energy — at the expense of affordability and security,’’ Mr Southwick said.

‘‘We believe it is important to get the mix right.’’

If legislated, new onshore gas projects would be given the green light across Victoria, but under strict conditions.

Farmers or landholders would get a right of refusal to gas companies, but if they agree to go ahead with gas extraction from their land, they would get a 10percent royalty.

Fracking would remain banned and all onshore gas would be reserved for the Victorian market.

Although Gouge was relatively safe because its contracts are with local companies, Mr Southwick said other energy-intensive businesses might be in danger of job losses.

‘‘People knew they had security and affordability of power, and that was one of the reasons for people getting their businesses established here,’’ he said.

‘‘No-one is going to set up a new business and come to Victoria when they don’t have security of power,’’ Mr Southwick said.

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