'Nothing to lose but a farm': Full cost of power connection
A MOFFATDALE farmer's wait of more than five months for a power supply has cost him greatly.
Dane Kapernick is frustrated with his loss during the wait for electricity company Ergon Energy to connect power to his irrigation system.
"I have nothing to lose but a farm now,” he said.
The young farmer said this lack of access to water and power meant his winter crop failed, and he lost $10,000 worth of grass seed.
"And the income I would have from fodder production if I had the power to irrigate,” Mr Kapernick said.
South Burnett residents have access to only one electricity company, Ergon Energy.
"I just wish I had a choice in power provider,” Mr Kapernick said.
The farmer, whose Moffatdale property is drought declared, decided to sell some of his livestock and donate the hay allocated for the cattle to a family struggling in drought conditions last August.
"I have spent and borrowed literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on water infrastructure, not being able to utilise it because I cannot get my power connected,” he said.
He had planned to do the same with his next crop, which would have been donated to flood affected farmers in north Queensland.
"But I cannot donate any hay, because I have not been able to grow any,” Mr Kapernick said.
He was not impressed by the customer service provided by the electricity company, especially when Ergon Energy crew members drove straight through the middle of his farm.
"Leaving deep wheel tracks through freshly planted ground, that again has cost me to repair,” Mr Kapernick said.
He said the workers did not stop to inform him of why they were on the property.
The farmer said he was originally told by Ergon that metres were available at his property.
Mr Kapernick waited 12 weeks before this original connection was made, which was soon disconnected again after being hooked up.
He said this was because the power board was 10cm too high.
An Ergon Energy spokesperson said they were committed to working with customers to address their concerns, but defects must be fixed by a licenced electrician.
"A licenced electrical contractor must rectify any defects associated with a customer's equipment before Ergon Energy can connect power,” they said.
"Timeframes depend on a range of factors, including the type and complexity of the connection, geographical location and whether alterations to Ergon's network are required.”
They said network alterations may require multiple site visits and the careful design of physical and electrical solutions.
In an email, Ergon Energy explained their crew members attended the farm and connected power in August last year.
"As advised at the time there were defects which required rectification,” they said.
"As an act of good faith, we continued with the connection to enable you to have access to power without being charged despite those defects.”
Ergon Energy said they had discussed with the farmer and his electrician the need to rectified the defects during October and November, but found the defects were still not fixed in December.
"At this time, we advised that we needed to have the defects rectified in order to reconnect supply,” they said.
"Safety and compliance are important to us as an electricity network.”
The company said they have now received new paperwork from the electrician stating the defects have been rectified.
Ergon Energy have scheduled a CT metering and reconnection, which will proceed if the defect rectifications are found to be correct.