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Australia Tasmanian farmer points the finger at electricity tariffs for dangerous working conditions

11:45  16 december  2019
11:45  16 december  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Tasmanian Residential Tariffs . A tariff is an agreed cost for providing energy between consumers and an Electricity Retailer. It includes both fixed (supply) and As a point of interest, both Aurora and 1st Energy prices have gone up ~ 2% on both supply charges and power consumption charges from the

a man wearing a hat: Cuprona dairy farmer Damien Carpenter has called for a simplified irrigation tariff system. (ABC Northern Tasmania: Michael Brooks)© Provided by ABC NEWS Cuprona dairy farmer Damien Carpenter has called for a simplified irrigation tariff system. (ABC Northern Tasmania: Michael Brooks)

A Tasmanian farmer who sustained a serious injury after working through the night for cheaper off-peak power prices is calling for a shake-up to the system.

Dairy farmer Damien Carpenter, from Cuprona in northern Tasmania, lost his left index finger trying to fix an irrigator after weeks of sleepless nights.

Irrigators in Tasmania receive the cheapest electricity charges between 10pm and 7am on weekdays.

"For four weeks straight we'd been going seven days a week, operating through the night with broken sleep," Mr Carpenter said.

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The electricity tariff has increased again. A lot of people think that the reason for the increase is the extra energy consumption. The increase in electricity tariff has made Nigerians quite angry and a lot of people have been demanding for a cancellation of this government decision.

"I was getting very fatigued."

At 6am, after weeks of the punishing schedule, Mr Carpenter forgot to turn the water pressure off on an irrigator he was trying to fix before the rates increased.

"It all of a sudden decided to move, and I had my finger in the wrong spot," he said.

"Definitely [fatigue] contributed to my accident — I would have normally turned that irrigator off."

Mr Carpenter is waiting to see if his finger can be surgically reattached.

In the meantime he is calling for a flat irrigation tariff, no matter what time of the day it is.

"The origin of it was to push power usage into the night," he said.

"But all it's done is push all the irrigation into the night and created a peak time."

Hazards of the job

Michael Nichols, from Sisters Creek, waters at night because of the reduced wind.

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Electricity is one of the most dangerous stuff to work with and an electrician is always at a risk of getting a shock. The heavy machinery like tractors or backhoes used by farmers and ranchers, may crush people or may run over farmers .

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He said he takes care to wear a head torch and makes sure he always has his phone on him.

"When I'm irrigating, I'm going for what the crop needs at the time," Mr Nichols said.

"If I need to put water on, I'm going to put water on regardless of the power.

"There is an added element [of danger] because it is out of time for most normal working conditions.

"I don't know many people that would drive casually back to the pump shed if you've got a pipe burst in your potato paddock."

Push for change

The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) is calling for more off-peak hours during daylight.

In a survey conducted by the TFGA, 89 per cent of respondents were unhappy with the current tariff and said it did not suit their business needs.

A further 48 per cent said the system impacted their workplace health and safety and mental health state.

Kylie Donaghy, a senior policy advisor with the TFGA, wants the off-peak rate to start at 5pm.

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Whilst it’s not an electrical danger , trailing wires all over the place is a tripping hazard; I well remember as a kid going arse-over-tit on a trailer and face-splatting on the A poorly wired circuit can actually arc voltage into the human finger and kill the whole person because there is nowhere else for current to go.

The workers are forced to live in the factories because of their working hours, and over 250 of them share just two pounds of chicken total at mealtimes. Complaints from the workers about their treatment often results in the electricity being shut off and temperatures in the factory rising to dangerously

"There may be room to move for a structure change, and we have advocated to have some more daylight hours included in the off-peak rate," Ms Donaghy said.

Who sets the tariff?

TasNetworks said irrigators already received a lower rate than residential consumers.

"We work on several issues with the TFGA and are running an Empowering Farms trial to better understand irrigators' needs," the utility company said in a statement.

"We've worked with 15 irrigators in the program so far.

"Many now use 'smart' technology to automate irrigation - including at night.

"Irrigators have several flexible tariff options available, and can work with their retailer to find the best one.

"It's standard practice for electricity rates to be cheaper overnight because of reduced demand."

The ABC has contacted energy retailer Aurora Energy and the Office of the Tasmanian Economic Regulator.

Aurora Energy said it would not be appropriate to comment because the tariff is set by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator.

The Tasmanian Economic Regulator said it would not be appropriate to comment because they only approve the tariffs sent to them by Aurora Energy.

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