New England business confidence is up, as are power bills

LOOKING UP: Business confidence is up on last quarter. Photo: Arsineh Houspian
LOOKING UP: Business confidence is up on last quarter. Photo: Arsineh Houspian

BUSINESSES across the region are excited about the year ahead, with confidence in the economy at near record highs – however, they continue to feel the pain from rising power bills.

A survey by the NSW Business Chamber showed local businesses reported increases in total capital spending, sales revenue and staff numbers, along with an positive out look on the state’s economy.

NSW Business Chamber regional manager Joe Townsend said confidence in the state’s business landscape had doubled in the last quarter.

“The perceived strength in the state’s economy is the key driver behind business growth and investment but cost pressures remain a drain,” Mr Townsend said.

Glen Innes hotel New England Motor Lodge is just one of the many businesses in the town to prosper from the construction of nearby wind farms.

“A lot of the time, we were 100 per cent booked with wind farm workers,” owner Sharon Harris said.

“The extra business has help us pay for the refurbishment of the hotel, which has increased out star rating. We’ve gone from a borderline 3.5 star to almost a 4.5 star hotel. That in itself creates confidence and brings back corporate customers.”

While the Glen Innes hotel is currently in a purple patch, Mrs Harris’ business was among the 58 per cent of businesses that reported being under pressure from rising operating costs.

The irony of increasing energy prices, despite the construction of nearby renewable projects was not lost on Mrs Harris.

BUSINESS IS GOOD: Sharon and David Harris' Glen Innes motel has experienced a business boom from the nearby wind farm construction. Photo: Steve Evans

BUSINESS IS GOOD: Sharon and David Harris' Glen Innes motel has experienced a business boom from the nearby wind farm construction. Photo: Steve Evans

“You’d think with the wind farm and solar farm would help reduce prices, but our energy bill has increased substantially since July last year,” she said.

“In a motel, gas and electricity are your expenses after staff costs.”

Inverell business owner Ross Worgan has also felt the impact of rising energy prices. 

He’s taken drsteps to drive down his operational cost of his repair business, Dieselequip, installing 100 solar panels of the roof of his business – and it’s paying off.

“Our power bill for last quarter was around $2300,” Mr Worgan said. “Our most recent power bill, we got $500 in credit. If you include paying off the loan for the panels, we’ve saved $1000 off our last bill.”

Mr Townsend said in the long term, the gains in capital investment and staffing could be lost to rising power costs. He called on the government to implement a package of measures to increase supply and ease cost pressures

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