February 12, 2018
A new survey into the impact of high electricity prices on regional Queensland businesses has found almost half have difficulties paying their power bills.
Jennifer Brownie, the coordinator of the Queensland Electricity Users Network (QEUN), is urging Queensland businesses to add their voice to growing calls on the Queensland Government to reduce power bills.
The survey, which polled 741 businesses across all industry sectors in Mareeba, Southern Downs, Whitsundays and Mt Isa, found that power bill stress is widespread in regional Queensland.
“Of great concern is that power bills are affecting the business sectors that drive the Queensland economy such as agriculture, mining, tourism and the retail trade,” Ms Brownie said.
“Most businesses reported they were unable to pass on the rising cost of electricity.
“To accommodate rising power bills, businesses have modified their electricity consumption, installed more energy efficient equipment and in some cases invested in alternative energy generation.
“However, the main result is businesses have absorbed the increased cost and that has affected their profitability and viability, with about a quarter surviving by taking on more debt.”
QEUN said the squeeze on profitability has also meant a lower ability for businesses to pay staff higher wages.
“While job and employee work hour losses have so far not been large, the reduction in employment is impacting on the economy of regional towns and cities,” Ms Brownie said.
“If the price of electricity rises again, about half of the businesses said they would experience strong to severe stress and further jobs losses can be expected.
“Since small businesses account for almost half of the jobs in Queensland, it is critical that small businesses are viable.”
QEUN said the survey indicated that if electricity prices were reduced, the viability of businesses would improve and many businesses would consider hiring more staff and expanding.
The Queensland Government has increased electricity prices for regional Queensland businesses and farmers by more than 15 per cent in the past two years.
“With the help of small businesses throughout Queensland, we can post their power bill experience on the QEUN website which will demonstrate to the Queensland Government the urgent need to reduce power bills,” Ms Brownie said.
To post “your power bill experience” and read the findings of the Regional Queensland Business Survey, visit the QEUN website