A recent survey of NSW Farmers members showed that while 89 per cent were either concerned or very concerned about the increasing cost of their electricity, a further 70pc would not support a reduction in reliability of electricity supply as a trade-off for reduced costs.
The cost of electricity has almost tripled in the last decade, and continues to rise. For farmers, the impact is even greater, as rural and regional consumers pay 25pc more than those in metropolitan areas.
Farmers require a reliable electricity supply to run their businesses, whether it's for automated agricultural systems or product storage and testing, climate control for animal welfare, water and environmental management, or business administration.
Cost is an important consideration, but animal welfare and product spoilage are greater concerns. Any disruption to supply is a significant cost to business.
To manage this cost, farmers are increasingly looking at alternatives such as solar, wind and bio-methane, and are investigating back up and demand management options like battery storage.
While progress is being made, these options are still more expensive than traditional options and there needs to be careful consideration of the policies needed to transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy options.
As government undertakes consultation on these issues, NSW Farmers encourages further incentives and support for those living in rural and regional areas to take up these alternative options.
This provides an opportunity for farmers to become more self-sufficient in situations where electricity is lost, such as during storms or bush fires, sometimes for days or weeks at a time.
As the discussion progresses to best manage input of both fossil and renewable sources to maintain certainty of supply for the electricity grid storage, demand management options must be a priority for ongoing energy efficiency and cost management.
NSW Farmers calls on the state and federal governments to work together to create a cohesive energy policy that will provide certainty and security of supply into the future. Energy supply must be reliable and affordable, utilising a mix of energy options to achieve the most efficient outcome.
- James Jackson NSW Farmers president