Monday, May 23, 2022

Successful Sunwater trial returns rebates to irrigators

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The Hon. Glenn Butcher, Qld Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water, Media Release, 1 November 2021

More than $3.13 million will be returned to growers in regional Queensland as part of a Sunwater trial related to water delivery services.

Burdekin Falls Dam.  Source: Sunwater
Burdekin Falls Dam. Source: Sunwater

Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water Glenn Butcher said the rebates have already begun being provided to irrigators following the first 12 months of a three-year electricity cost pass‐through trial – developed in conjunction with the Queensland Farmers’ Federation.

“I’m really pleased with the results of the electricity cost pass‐through trial,” Mr Butcher said.

“It’s important that Sunwater can not only deliver reliable water services but continue to find ways to benefit their customers, in this case through savings.

“Each year irrigation customers pay regulated water charges set by the Queensland Government that include estimated electricity costs.

“At the end of each financial year, Sunwater finalises its actual electricity accounts and customer water usage.

“Through the trial, Sunwater calculated how much customers paid for electricity during the year and compared this to actual electricity costs.

“Where Sunwater spent less on electricity than it recouped from customers, those customers will receive a credit on their first quarter bills in the following financial year.

“The result of the trial will ensure a more equitable outcome for irrigators where they only pay for the electricity costs Sunwater incurs in delivering water to them.”

The trial will deliver additional benefits of the trial, including that if Sunwater spends more on electricity than it recoups from irrigation customers, no debits will be applied to their bills, so nobody participating in the trial is worse-off.

The trial applies to 1331 irrigation customers in the Bundaberg, Burdekin Haughton, Lower Mary River, Mareeba-Dimbulah, Barker Barambah and Upper Condamine water supply schemes.

Actual electricity costs in the Bundaberg, Burdekin Haughton, Lower Mary River and Mareeba-Dimbulah schemes for 2020-21 were less than what was recouped from customers and irrigation customers in these locations will have a credit applied to their next bill.

Irrigation customers subject to the trial in the Upper Condamine and Barker Barambah schemes will experience no change as Sunwater spent more on electricity than it recouped from customers.

Sunwater CEO Glenn Stockton said customers stood to benefit from cost savings achieved as part of the water provider’s energy strategy, and changes to operational arrangements.

“This is a great outcome for our customers because in addition to Sunwater providing reliable services, we are providing them with benefits and transparency, and the trial is a good example of that” he said.

“We have a range of performance measures in place to increase our electricity efficiency, we continue to closely monitor our usage, conduct energy audits and undertake regular retail electricity tariff reviews, the results of which will be shared with our customers.

“Following the success of the trial, we will be looking at opportunities to introduce a permanent electricity cost pass-through mechanism, ensuring those who use water pay the actual electricity costs for its delivery.”

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