Dismay at electricity price rises for small business
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) is alarmed at the electricity price increases announced by the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) in its final determination.
CCIQ Director of Advocacy Nick Behrens said regional Queensland small business owners, who had already faced huge power bill costs in recent years, would be shocked by the planned 2016-17 figures.
The QCA draft determination provides that in 2016-17, typical customers on the main small business tariff (tariff 20) in regional Queensland can expect an increase of $235 or 11.2 per cent in their annual bill.
Typical small business customers on the seasonal time of use tariff (tariff 22A) can expect an increase of $660 or 15.8 per cent in their annual bill.
“CCIQ is extremely disappointed by the QCA decision and believes the price increase will come as a shock to small businesses, who last year saw prices starting to come down,” he said.
“CCIQ has serious concerns about the impact such increases will have on business profitability and competitiveness.
“We believe small businesses are becoming disillusioned by the energy sector, particularly given the State Government’s commitment to ease the cost of electricity for small business over the coming years.”
Mr Behrens said given the difficult trading environment in regional Queensland, businesses would be very reluctant to pass these increases on to customers for fear of losing trade.
“Yet at the same time most businesses have already reduced their electricity usage as much as possible, forcing businesses to try and absorb these astonishing increases,” he said.
“This will result in reducing business costs in other areas, including capital expenditure and employment levels that will further damage the economy.
“In some instances there is little doubt that the impact of these electricity price rises will push some businesses permanently into the red with forced closures.”
Mr Behrens said small businesses in regional Queensland were already disadvantaged by the lack of competition in the retail electricity market.
“CCIQ is calling on the State Government to intervene on behalf of Queensland small businesses to block this increase.”
These prices do not apply to South East Queensland customers as retail electricity prices will be deregulated in SEQ from 1 July 2016.