Refrigerant gas price hike stings local businesses
FISHERMEN, dairy farmers and produce growers say a dramatic increase in refrigerant gas prices could cripple their businesses.
Operators say because of the carbon tax, suppliers are now charging about $285/kg for commercial refrigerant gas – a rise of $260/kg.
Gail Jonsson, of Jonsson’s Farm Market at Stratford, said if a fridge pipe broke and it needed to be regassed, she could face a $68,352 bill.
Mrs Jonsson said before July 1, that cost was $4450.
“It’s absolutely terrifying,” she said.
“I don’t know how small business can absorb those exorbitant costs. I’m terrified of the day we get a leak and have to regas. We’re on edge.”
Commercial fisherman Bob Lamason said he used about 100kg of refrigerant gas each year on his boat and said there was no alternative but to pay the increased levy.
“Our (running) cost is going to increase by a good 5 per cent. It’s a lot of money,” he said.
Mr Lamason predicted the costs would hit consumers.
“It’s going to cripple businesses and the government doesn’t want to know about it,” he said.
Yesterday, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet warned against price gouging, urging wholesale gas suppliers to explain their increases.
He said the carbon price on the commercial refrigerant gas (R404A) was $75 per kilogram despite some suppliers quoting $285 per kilogram.
Industry group Refrigerants Australia said the other costs contributing to the price included financing, insurance and compliance.
Federal member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said the prices were “scary”.
“At the IGA at Atherton they were paying $28,000 on June 30 and $250,000 on July 1 if he has to replace his refrigerant gas,” he said.
“This is going to bite us big time. (Consumers will) start to see these prices coming through in the next couple of months.”
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Cash hit: Gail Jonsson is worried about the impact to her business from the rising costs in refrigerant gas. Picture: STEWART McLEAN.