Farmers fuel their own fix
Farmers are taking issues with South Australia’s energy system into their own hands.
Irrigators and farmers have turned to diesel generators to combat the price and stability issues plaguing South Australia's energy grid.
Susie Green, head of SA’s apple, pear and cherry grower lobbies has told reporters that farmers are growing their own grids.
“More and more I'm hearing that people are looking at forms of back-up generation for irrigation pumps and all different systems around their orchards,” she told ABC reporters.
“Particularly as we come into the warmer months there's certainly concern about security of power supply.
“The last thing we'd want is for the power to go out and not be able to pack cherries in the week before Christmas, so it's really providing a guarantee that we can continue operating.”
She said grid-level volatility was frustrating farmers, but the possibility of power outages during a major bushfire was driving their choices too.
“[Generators] are not cheap, so it's not a decision that's made lightly,” she said.
Liberal MP Tim Whetstone, whose electorate covers the Riverland region, backed the claims.
“Irrigators are turning off pumps, turning off packing houses with these power shortages,” he said.
“They're having fruit set on their vines, they're having fruit setting on their orchards, that's a critically important [time].
“Irrigators, farmers and small businesses, even households now are turning to diesel generation, so that they can have power security.”
Mr Whetstone said that during the most recent blackout, irrigators were told to turn their pumps off, as the spot price soared.
“This is about power security here in South Australia, whether you're on a contract, whether you're on the spot prices, every employer, even the big end of town, are needing power security,” he said.
Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation Kyam Maher said the State Government was working to improve the electricity system.
“We're looking at a whole range of strategies, increased gas supply is one of the big strategies,” he said.
“There's $24 million the Government's putting in to ensure that we incentivise finding new gas.
“And of course [we're] leading the charge to fix the national energy market which just doesn't meet the needs of that's power.”