Agriculture is an important part of the Queensland economy. As a key partner distributing electricity across the state, we're here to help farmers prepare, irrigate and harvest their crops and support the agriculture sector for the future.
We regularly engage directly with farmers on a variety of initiatives, including tariff development and implementation, safety and energy management.
Energy Savers Program
The program helped farmers reduce their energy costs by providing information and tools to adopt more efficient practices and technologies with irrigation and on-farm processing, including refrigeration and cold storage.
The Energy Savers Program occurred in a number of stages across Queensland, with the first two stages including farms in both Ergon and Energex territories:
- Irrigators Energy Savers Program 2013 – 2015: 30 irrigation audits were conducted on a range of different farms and irrigation types
- Energy Savers Plus Program 2015 – 2017: Up to 100 audits will be conducted across a range of irrigation and on-farm processing systems in a number of sectors.
As the audits were completed, support was provided to farmers to apply recommended strategies. Case studies were then developed to show the benefits of these strategies to the wider farming industry.
The QFF has lots more information on their website about energy efficiency and renewable energy including financing options. These include loans and grants to fund energy efficiency projects. Based on the success of the Energy Savers Program and the strong interest from the agricultural sector, the Queensland Government continued to assist farmers to improve energy management through a follow-on program call the Business Energy Savers Program, implemented by QFF.
Energy Savers Program in action
This case study show how Mareeba banana farm is reducing irrigation energy costs thanks to the Energy Savers program.
Alexander Larsen, Project Manager, Howe Farming, "We're looking at saving approximately $40,000 a year which is almost a 45% decrease in our power bill. Howe Farming Enterprises is a family owned business. They employ up to 550 people per year and we produce bananas, sugar cane, coffee, avocado, blueberries and a variety of other crops.
We run this pump year round and it does about 5,000 hours in that year. We spend around $90,000 per annum and we're always looking at ways to improve efficiencies and cut the costs.
The audit recommended 3 parts, installing the VSD, implementing dynamic head control and get rid of the primary sustaining valve behind me and changing from tariff 44 to 66.
The VSD was a good fit because of the size of blocks we water at different elevation. We're expecting to save about $40,000 a year, which equates to about 45% reduction in our bill.
We're looking at lower maintenance costs on the pump and pipes because it's not running as hard all year round so we're looking at a longer pump life.
A 2 megalitre per year variation between our biggest and smallest blocks, we're expecting it to be much close to an even watering, so with each plant, it doesn't matter which block they're in, they're getting a nice consistent watering."
This Energy Savers case study shows that there are cost savings to be had by improving energy efficiency and some good productivity gains too.
Alexander Larsen, Project Manager, Howe Farming, "Based on the results of the Energy Savers audit, we are looking at rolling out similar efficiency trials and audits throughout the rest of the farms."
Visit the Energy Savers website www.qff.org.au/energysavers for more on farm energy efficiency case studies.
Energy Savers, was a joint initiative of the Queensland Government, Ergon Energy and QFF and it's members.
Watch this video to see how a Mareeba banana farm is on track to save 45% of the power bill for one of their pump stations, with a new variable speed drive and a tariff change recommended in the Energy Savers audit.
This case study shows how a Brisbane nursery is reducing energy costs thanks to the Energy Savers program.
"We're now down to 70MW hours this year and that'll be a saving of about $10,000- $12,000 a year.
Aspley Nursery was established in 1952 by the Percy family. Initially on a site in Aspley, we now have two sites - a 5 acre site and a 10 acre site here in Caboolture.
This is where we grow all the plants for supply to the landscape industry. We were using 124MWh per year in the nursery in the year prior to the audit and we have to get that below the limit of 100MWh which is the limit for demand pricing.
Of the five recommendations from the audit, we've actually instigated three almost straight away. Putting in a VSD pump which controls our used water, solar hot water heating for our propagation section in here and replacing fluoros with LED lights.
Down in the pump shed we had a 7.5kW centrifugal pump and we've replace that with this 5.5kW VSD pump and because of that we actually get more evenness of water and use a lot less power.
One of the benefits of having a variable speed drive pump is that I get pressure that is always the same so I can design my growing areas so that I get evenness of water and evenness of crop.
I can also use it on a large area or I can use it on a small area and I only use the power necessary for what my needs are.
One of the recommendations we haven't done is PV solar electric systems and we will use it for sure. I see that as a benefit as we'll be able to recover the costs in about three years.
We can prove that it's actually working. If you can't actually monitor what you’re doing then you can't control it. We're now down around 70MWh per year and so we've actually achieved what the goal was. We're actually doing better than expected and we're saving about $10,000 to $12,000 a year.
With the results that we got here we actually decided at our 10 acre site that we would replace a similar centrifugal pump over there with a VSD pump and we're getting 30% reduction in power use which is a really good outcome for us.
Visit the Energy Savers website for more on farm energy efficiency case studies.
Energy Savers, was a joint initiative of the Queensland Government, Ergon Energy and QFF and its members.
The Aspley Nursery has reduced their power consumption from 124 MWh to 70 MWh per annum and now save $12,000 a year. They’ve achieved this through implementing recommendations of the Energy Savers audit to upgrade to a variable speed pump, replace the hot water system for plant propagation, and replace fluoro lighting with LED.
It’s a good idea to contact your electricity retailer to check that you’re on the right tariff. New tariffs introduced recently can provide opportunities for lower bills, particularly where appropriate changes to farm energy use practices can be made. As tariff prices are reviewed every year, it’s a good idea to contact your retailer annually (July) to ascertain if you are on the best tariff.
Tariff trials in Agricultural sector
From 2017 to 2019 we implemented tariff trials with some of our agricultural customers to assess they were suitable to operate under alternative tariff options – including load control tariffs. The findings of the trials help lead to the development of three new load control tariff options for small and large business customers. Many irrigation customers have now switched to these new load control tariffs – find out more about these new tariffs and if they might be suitable for your operations.
Help during drought
If you're a farmer living in a drought affected area you may be able to get help from your electricity retailer in the form of waived charges and deferred payments. For more information, read about the Drought Relief from Electricity Charges Scheme (DRECS).
Safety is our highest priority
Working safely with electricity and irrigation equipment is essential to keep our community and our network safe. Stay safe and read our Irrigators fact sheet (PDF 1.6 mb).
Connecting to the network
In most cases, a new electricity connection to a rural property will require the extension of our network. This may involve extending the high voltage lines and/or the installation of a transformer.