POWER SURGE: Brendan Phillips, Simon Kay and the team at White Industries have invested money in new equipment and upgrades to better their services. But these can't continue if power prices keep rising.
POWER SURGE: Brendan Phillips, Simon Kay and the team at White Industries have invested money in new equipment and upgrades to better their services. But these can't continue if power prices keep rising. Meg Gannon

Employment opportunities drop as power prices surge

BUSINESS owners in Dalby are preparing to be rocked by a 40 per cent spike in electricity prices, striking out hundreds of future employment prospects across the Western Downs.

Employment opportunities have slumped across the Western Downs, with new local government figures revealing unemployment has hit a dismal 10-year high.

Warrego MP Ann Leahy believes the 6.9 per cent unemployment rate in the region can be partly blamed on rising energy prices.

Dalby-based foundry White Industries and its 58 employees are the backbone of eight different industries that employ their services across Australia.

Technical manager Simon Kay said the electricity dependent business is bearing the brunt of uncontrollable spikes in power prices.

"If electricity prices go up we'll have some of our customers look elsewhere, presumably offshore,” Mr Kay said.

"If we start losing customers then unfortunately the business will change accordingly.”

For a business whose electricity usage forms the basis of all the work they conduct, White Industries is already facing sky high power bills.

The foundry will be moving from Tariff 37 to a "demand tariff”, where they will be forced to pay excess charges if they exceed demand, according to Mr Kay.

Mr Kay met with Minister for Mines, Energy, and Natural Resource Anthony Lynham on Wednesday to negotiate the tariff changes, and the potential implications on future employment prospects.

"Energy is a large part of our business - to mold metal we have to use a lot of electricity,” Mr Kay said.

"It's already bad enough that the prices have gone up so much over the last decade there's nothing to say under the new tariffs that they're not going to be increasing at similar sorts of rates.”

Ms Leahy said rising costs affected any business' ability to remain competitive in their industry.

"High energy prices for businesses in the Western Downs reduces their competitiveness with similar businesses in the south-east who can shop around for lower energy prices,” she said.

"Businesses can't hire new employees, trainees, or apprentices if they cannot compete with similar businesses in the south-east.”

When asked about employment opportunities being affected by the cost of power, a spokeswoman from the Department of Employment and Small Business outright denied that energy prices were rising. 0"Energy prices are not rising in south-west Queensland,” she said.

"If you live in Queensland you pay less for your power compared to the southern states.”

With the power surge due to spike in coming months, all that's left for businesses to do is hope that these spikes don't come back to haunt them.

"Give us a break,” Mr Kay said. "Help us keep going, help us keep contributing to Queensland's success by making sure any increases in price are proportional.”

DO you own a business that has been hit by an increase in power prices? Let us know at editorial@dalbyherald. com.au


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