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Power failures threatening southern crops

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Frustration has boiled over among irrigators in southeast Queensland’s Childers region as they battle to grow crops with unreliable electricity in the summer heat.

CANEGROWERS Isis Chairman Mark Mammino says sugarcane growers in the region are now asking that serious consideration be given to compensation.

“My phone has been running hot with members reporting yet another night of power voltage dips in our region meaning pumps and irrigators have stopped working,” Mr Mammino said.

“With hot and dry weather in southern Queensland since Christmas our members have been irrigating as hard as they can to keep their sugarcane and other crops going but they’re finding morning after morning that their paddocks haven’t been watered because the power has dropped out at some point in the night.

“It’s very stressful and we’ve had enough! The network in our region has seriously deteriorated over the past six months and these overnight outages are becoming more frequent.

“The peanuts and soybeans many of our growers have planted as break crops, investing a lot of money, are starting to show signs of water stress and next season’s sugarcane is being held back.

“Not only is electricity expensive, it is now unreliable. We are paying top dollar for a network standard that is not being delivered.

“Growers paying Tariff 65 are effectively being treated as Tariff 33 customers when drop outs are a risk offset by lower costs.

“The only other option is to move to daytime tariffs which are vastly more expensive and, as any gardener knows, it’s better for the plants and the soil to be watered in the cool of the night.”

CANEGROWERS Isis has discussed the problems with Ergon on numerous occasions but been told the electricity supplier is unable, at this stage, to identify and therefore solve the problem.

“We’re writing to the Queensland Government demanding that serious consideration be given to compensation being provided to financially affected growers for the period from 1 November 2018 until we are satisfied the issue has been resolved,” Mr Mammino said.


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