Shadow Agriculture Minister and Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh has accused the Victorian Government of placing further pressure on diesel prices after Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio revealed plans to use diesel generators to secure Victoria’s energy supply during summer.
Announced last week, the diesel generators will pump up to 100MW of power into the state’s energy grid as back-up in case of extreme heatwaves this summer, yet Mr Walsh questions the effect the extra usage would have on diesel prices.
‘‘Given that Victoria has approximately two weeks’ supply of diesel at any one time, what advice have you sought on the impact of using an additional 500000 litres of diesel per day on the price of diesel and Victoria’s diesel supplies?’’ Mr Walsh asked in parliament last week.
‘‘Minister, with the grain harvest in full swing over summer and dependent on diesel supplies, as are the trucks and the trains that service the grain industry, can you guarantee that using 500000 litres of diesel per day to secure Victoria’s power supply will not see diesel prices skyrocket just when farmers need it the most?’’
The Australian Energy Market Operator said the generators would be used during the third or fourth day of a heatwave when people ramped up their air-conditioning, and Ms D’Ambrosio said the use of diesel back-up was not unusual.
‘‘This occurs on a regular basis when an extreme summer is forecast and last took place in 2014 under the previous Liberal Government, when Hazelwood was still in operation,’’ she said.
Ms D’Ambrosio told parliament the market operator was in the middle of negotiations with potential suppliers and that taxpayers would not foot the bill for the diesel generators.
‘‘The reality is this: it is the role of the market operator, together with any proponents who wish to provide additional supply to the market, to account for the sources of energy to be supplied to ensure that there are sufficient measures or energy supplies available to meet any contracted obligations that may be negotiated,’’ she told the Legislative Assembly.
It follows a tense week in parliament where the Energy Minister was constantly peppered with questions regarding the state’s energy policy and she said she was ‘‘absolutely open’’ to a conversation or meeting with any business having difficulties paying their energy bill.
In response, Nationals MPs have called on people to take up the challenge, encouraging them to contact their electoral offices to speak about their problems before facilitating a one-on-one meeting with the minister.