South Gippsland dairy farmer, Max Jelbart was shocked to find that while his electricity usage was down for the month of August, a ‘carbon adjustment’ of $482.75 and renewable energy charges of $420.49 on his latest power bill have seen monthly costs rocket past $4000 for the first time. M104212

IN JUNE this year, when the Federal Government introduced the carbon tax, farming authorities said it would wipe $3.2 billion off farmers’ operating margins in 2012-13. They also expected dairy farmers and chicken growers to be among the hardest hit. Now, with the arrival of their first electricity bills, the chickens are really coming home to roost at local dairy farms. UDV District Councillor for Gippsland’s Region 6, Max Jelbart of Leongatha, said he was frankly shocked by the added cost of the carbon tax and renewable energy charges in his August power bill. “My bill for August as gone well past $4000 a month for the first time,” Mr Jelbart said this week. “Despite the fact that our usage has actually gone down, when compared to the same month last year, we are having to pay a total of $4063.84. “That’s without calculating the reduction in income from the manufacturers, who are also having to pay the carbon tax. “And there’s no export exposed industry off-set to compensate for their added cost, so it will be the suppliers who miss out in the end.” Mr Jelbart, who runs a 1000-cow dairy farm at Leongatha South, said the added impost of the carbon tax was part of a raft of rising input costs for dairy farmers who were already facing challenging market conditions and the added costs of a difficult season. “The ‘carbon adjustment’ component of the bill is $482.12 which is actually higher than the cost of our off-peak usage charge, at $350.20 for the month. “And there’s also a total of $420.49 in ‘renewable energy charges’ which together has added more than $900 to our bill and that’s just for the month of August.” His actual energy volume charges amount to only $1002.63 of the overall bill of $4063.84 of which network infrastructure charges of $1691.63 and carbon and renewable energy charges of a total of $902.61 make up the lion’s share. The ‘Renewable Energy Charges’ scheme is predominantly a Federal Government initiative, with the State Government also in for its chop to help fund a Victorian renewable incentive scheme. Mr Jelbart’s $420.49 ‘E&REC’ charges for the month represent the amount of money the power company has to raise to pay for renewable energy certificates for VEET, SRES and LRET projects, as follows: * VEET (Victorian Energy Efficiency Target): $90.49 * SRES (Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme): $209.25 * LRET (Large-scale Renewable Energy Target): $120.75 Mr Jelbart, who receives his bills monthly, said a lot of dairy farmers, who are on quarterly power payments, might not be aware how much their power charges are going up by. He said he plans to list the power bill rises as an item for discussion at the new UDV Central Council meeting. As the newest board member of the Murray Goulburn Co-op Company Limited, he might also raise the issue at the next MG meeting. “I’m not in a position to discuss my role on the MG Board because I haven’t attended my first meeting yet, but I’m looking forward to it.”