Big energy consumers angry about massive price hike

Alcoa Portland smelter

Large energy consumers are asking the federal government to fix its energy policy after several of them were hit with price increases of up to 100 per cent while troubled aluminium producer, Alcoa, was given a sweetheart deal.

According to The Australian Financial Review, key Australian energy and manufacturing users, including Brickworks and BHP Billiton, are urging the federal government to not negotiate ‘sweetheart deals’ and instead they want the government to fix energy regulations so all Australian industries can benefit from lower gas prices.

The companies also said Victoria should lift its moratorium on onshore production and South Australia to ensure enough gas is available to generate power there.

Lindsay Partridge, chief executive of Brickworks, the nation’s top brickmaker, said government assistance is on the top of all local manufacturers wishlists.

“Every manufacturer would like [a sweetheart deal on power] and a supply of gas as well,” said Partridge.

“The jobs of our employees only matter if they are all in one electorate, otherwise [they’re] of no consequence to politicians.”

Tony Frencham, chief executive of Dow Chemical in Australia, said that if federal and state governments could not fix energy regulations, then industry would move offshore.

“What is occurring is supply-driven and not cost-driven, and therefore AGL and others should not be victimising their energy intensive and trade-exposed long-term customers,” he said.

“If they do, then ultimately the supply-demand energy imbalance will go away – not because energy policies have been corrected, but because demand destruction has occurred, and with it the local manufacturing jobs that energy supported.”

The Chief Scientist Allan Finkel is currently preparing a report on Australia’s energy security for the federal government.