THE state’s cotton industry has been savaged by energy costs that have up to tripled, says a submission to the Queensland Competition Authority.
The hikes come as a return to dry conditions in central Queensland has meant many cotton growers are abandoning their present crop just a year after heavy rains provided one of the best yields on record.
An indication of how the industry’s fortune has been turned upside down are the dam levels at St George, a prime cotton region in the state’s southwest, that have dropped to 30 per cent, according to Balonne Shire mayor Donna Stewart.
Cotton Australia said the changes to tariffs following the QCA draft determination would have a significant impact on growers who relied on electricity for irrigation pumps.
“Modelling shows that in a number of instances the impact will be in the order of 200 to 300 per cent increases,” Cotton Australia’s submission said.
It called for the State Government to commission a review to ensure irrigators had access to tariffs that matched their usage requirements and provided affordable electricity.
Increasing power costs are forcing many cotton growers to abandon their expensive electricity infrastructure and make the switch to diesel-powered pumps.