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'Real anxiety': Gladstone's big industry power bill woes

REAL CONCERN: Gladstone industry leaders met with Labor politicians yesterday to discuss power prices.
REAL CONCERN: Gladstone industry leaders met with Labor politicians yesterday to discuss power prices. Contributed

THE biggest challenges facing Gladstone industries could be bound for Canberra after a round table discussion on energy prices with three Labor politicians yesterday.

Problems with securing long-term electricity contracts were raised yesterday with shadow minister for innovation, industry, science and research, Senator Kim Carr and Queensland Labor Senators Anthony Chisholm and Chris Ketter.

During their visit to Gladstone, the trio visited Boyne Smelter Limited and spoke with a group of people from Gladstone's major industries and union representatives.

Queensland Alumina Limited's Brian Swart, who attended the meeting, said stable energy supply was "critical" to the company.

Mr Swart said the Gladstone community needed ongoing dialogue about energy pricing.

He said QAL was exploring ways to improve its energy usage, including being in the "early stages" of investing in renewable energy.

"We have a long- term energy strategy to ensure adequate supply for our business," he said.

REAL CONCERN: Senator Kim Carr in Gladstone yesterday, flanked by Senator Anthony Chisholm.
REAL CONCERN: Senator Kim Carr in Gladstone yesterday, flanked by Senator Anthony Chisholm. Andrew Thorpe

Part owner of QAL - RUSAL - revealed its exposure to power price rises in a submission to the Alan Finkel review of the electricity market earlier this year.

RUSAL said QAL's electricity bill had increased by 90% in 10 years, even though their energy use was unchanged.

"As part of our transformation efforts QAL is reviewing our energy consumption and working on ways to reduce our energy requirements including looking at our usage during peak and off peak demand periods," Mr Swart said.

"We are in the early stages of investigating options around renewable energy to support our operation in the future."

Senator Carr said one of the key issues for Gladstone companies was with the energy regulator.

"There's a real anxiety about the regulator and that the energy market is broken," the shadow minister said.

"People can't rely on a model that was set up for a different time and is no longer fit for purpose."

Topics:  kim carr qal



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