Irrigators demanded an immediate 33 per cent reduction in power prices at a recent Power Prices and Farming Decision-making Forum held at Bundaberg between 200 angry farmers and Ergon Energy officials.

The forum heard power prices had increased by 90 per cent over the past seven years, which made irrigation farming unsustainable.

Canegrowers Association figures suggested that reducing electricity charges by 33 per cent would be revenue neutral to the Queensland government.

Representatives from Ergon and the Queensland Competition Authority gave the meeting no positive undertaking to reduce costs and farmers were left with no more than promises their concerns would be relayed to the government.

The solar rebate scheme, the carbon tax and other green power initiatives were largely blamed for the cumulative rise in electricity bills.

Some farmers said they could not continue operations beyond 2015 should the present power costs not be reduced.

Ergon Energy chief executive Ian McLeod told the meeting he did not want any farmers leaving their properties because they could not afford to run them.

He said (Ergon) was required by law to set prices that cover the actual costs of supply because if the company was unable to cover costs of production then it was not going to be reliable in the long term.

Chairman of the QCA, Dr Malcolm Roberts said his department was responsible for setting prices across the state, but could not set prices to suit individual circumstances.

In a show of unified support across agriculture, representatives of the National Irrigators Council, Canegrowers, Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers, Agforce, Australian Sugar Millers Council, Bundaberg Regional Council and Bundaberg Sugar submitted statements and a petition in support of price reduction.

Taking aim at the State Government, Tom Chesson, CEO of the National Irrigators Council said real change was needed at a policy level.

“Government policies at a state and federal level are artificially and unsustainably driving up energy prices,” Mr Chesson said.