Big bills hurting viability for locals

POWER: Norske Skog general manager Milo Foster at the Albury energy forum in March. Picture: MARK JESSER
POWER: Norske Skog general manager Milo Foster at the Albury energy forum in March. Picture: MARK JESSER

Rising power prices have forced Border businesses to consider their viability.

Norske Skog Paper Mills’ Milo Foster said the company was on a fixed contract for electricity but was facing a 10 per cent increase due to line loss, with more electricity coming from interstate.

He said gas costs would double or triple next year.

“It definitely affects our longer term viability here, if we have to incur the higher costs,” he said.

Mr Foster said historically Albury’s mill was profitable but had been affected by the decline in newspapers and relies on gas – unlike Tasmania or New Zealand. 

“It makes it challenging for all of us at Albury,” he said. 

Albury-based Australia Industry Group’s Tim Farrah said businesses were in a state of flux, despite March’s summit with Sussan Ley. 

“They’ve got no choice but to pass on costs to customers and suddenly imports look like a better prospect,” he said. “It’s a big threat to Australia and to local jobs.”

A spokesman for Farrer member Sussan Ley said COAG’s energy council agreed to reforms to deliver affordable systems. The council agreed to provide greater transparency on the price of long-term energy contracts.