It’s only a RORT if you’re not in on it

Back in the day: when the facts mattered.


South Aussies aren’t well served when it comes to media scribes.  The Advertiser was once a mighty broad-sheet, but these days it’s a struggling down market tabloid that – as a source of news – makes for a pretty decent fish and chip wrapper.

But – slowly – the journos there are waking up to the nightmare created by former Premier Mike Rann and his kin.  Rann made sure that giant fans rolled out like a tsunami across SA and now the costs have well and truly caught up with Croweaters.  In a series of posts we’ll look at The Advertiser as it plays “catch-up”.

STT readers are well aware that South Australians suffer the highest power prices in the World – driven there by its great wind rush.  Here’s former ETSA boss Bruce Dinham giving the current crop of swindlers a serve.

Bruce Dinham, former ETSA boss, says we’re all being ripped off on electricity prices
The Advertiser
Bruce Dinham
9 July 2013

THE electricity market is a complete rip-off, says the former boss of ETSA, Bruce Dinham.  In his own words, he explains that it has been set up purely to maximise the profits of power suppliers.

WE complain about high electricity prices but ignore one of the main causes – the so-called National Electricity Market.

It is not a market at all but more of an arrangement for maximising profits rather than reducing costs – and it is seriously flawed.

When this arrangement was introduced, key features of electricity supply systems seem to have been ignored or not understood.

Features of such systems are that they are: 1) inherently vertically integrated with a style of management control united by a common owner; 2) have several essential operating features; and 3) cannot be run in separately managed parts.

The old Electricity Trust (ETSA) was an integrated organisation.

Splitting it into a number of separately owned parts created problems, the effects of which are now manifest as flaws in the present arrangement.

To deal with the number of separately owned generators, a system of bidding was introduced to derive what is called a spot price, which determines the amount generators are paid. The theory is that bidding is competitive and produces lower prices. The reality is that it does the opposite.

There is normally no competition and the bidding system simply allows generators to manipulate prices for their own benefit.

There is no competition, nor should there be.  This is because a properly managed electricity supply system would aim to have enough firm generating plant available (wind and solar-voltaic are not firm) to meet the likely maximum demand, plus a margin for maintenance and breakdown.

There would be little or no spare capacity for competition.

A competent system operator would or should know the relative efficiencies and costs of generators and schedule them accordingly, with prices set from known and proven cost factors, not sham bids from profit seekers and speculators.

Effects of the flawed bidding system are aggravated by a ridiculously high bid ceiling set at $12.50/kWh, CPI indexed. For comparison, the final selling price to consumers is about 30 cents/kWh.

The $12.50 amount is said to be needed to enable generators to recover fixed costs. However, with the range of factors involved, together with the fact that generators can manipulate prices, a definite figure is indeterminate.  The $12.50 is arbitrary and questionable and in itself shows that the bidding system is a farce and easily manipulated.

This extreme amount also applies automatically if there is a breakdown or shortage of generators.

As well as being open to exploitation with questionable shortages and breakdowns, it also introduces an unnecessary and undesirable element of risk, leading to hedging and trading in financial derivatives by retailers, adding to costs passed on to consumers in retail prices.

Retailers themselves are an unnecessary cost.

They do not own or operate any part of the generation, transmission or distribution systems and contribute nothing to the production and delivery of electricity.

The argument that they give choice of supplier is spurious. The only choice they give is who sends your electricity bill.

The electricity you get comes from the same generator, through the same wires and the real cost, as distinct from some manipulated and inflated price, is the same regardless of who your retailer might be.  Retailers are essentially parasitic and there is no real need for them, other than for billing and account collection purposes, which could be done by the distributor.

The National Electricity Market is seriously flawed and an expensive shambles with a bloated attendant bureaucracy.

It is an empire builders’ paradise, the extent of which can be judged from the string of acronyms of organisations with fingers now in the electricity pie – NEM, SCER, AEMO, AER, AEMC, NEL, NREL, ACCC, and ESCOSA.

Once upon a time in South Australia we had just one, ETSA. Now in SA there are, as well as this extensive bureaucracy, six separate generating companies (not counting wind and solar), two transmission, one distribution and 11 retailers, each with a main aim of maximum profits for their local and overseas shareholders.

It is no surprise that electricity prices have gone through the roof.

The question needs to be asked: Who benefits from this arrangement?  It is certainly not electricity consumers, so why would any responsible government promote it?

The Commonwealth has no constitutional authority or responsibility for electricity supply in the states so the arrangements under which this so-called national market operates derive from states’ legislation.  It is up to the states, particularly South Australia, to take the lead in getting rid of this blatant and egregious rip-off of electricity consumers.

Bruce Dinham is the former general manager of ETSA.
The Advertiser

Where Bruce talks about $12.50/kWh – that scales up to $12,500 per MW/h – which is the figure STT reported on a little while back – and which compares with the average dispatch price of $40 per MW/h.

Bruce observes that “a properly managed electricity supply system would aim to have enough firm generating plant available (wind and solar-voltaic are not firm) to meet the likely maximum demand”.

That – from a bloke who knows a thing or two about generating sparks on demand – is a clear statement that wind power doesn’t even register as part of “a properly managed” energy supply.  It is a joke – and we’d all be laughing – if someone else was stumping up for our power bills.

Bruce then has a spray about the fact that “generators can manipulate prices” and “use the bidding system to reap $12.50/kWh” ($12,500 per MW/h) which is an “extreme amount [that] also applies automatically if there is a breakdown or shortage of generators” – all based on the generators’ “exploitation [of] questionable shortages”.

When the wind itself provides the reason for generation “shortages” – it makes rampant price rorting seem almost legit.

STT exposed the greentard furphy that the wind is always blowing somewhere across a “distributed wind power network” some time back – and has demonstrated what that means to the dispatch price (the very figures referred to by Bruce in the piece above and the very reason for those price spikes).

If you thought the events of 3-5 June 2013 were a few unlucky days for wind weasels – unless you’re talking about AGL who cashed in big time – here’s the total wind power output for 27 and 28 June.  For the best part of 24 hours – the entire phalanx of Aussie fans failed to put out much more than 50MW (from a total installed capacity of 2,660MW).  50MW represents less than 0.2% of the 24,000 MW of average power demand.  Top stuff!

If they look a little fuzzy – click on the graphs and they’ll pop up sharp as pins in new windows.

June 27 2013


June 28 2013


Here’s a question for Barnyard, Yubank & Co: what was it that kept the lights burning, businesses ticking over and homes toasty warm on a couple of typically frosty Aussie winter’s days; and how much did it cost?  “Spin” away boys.

Your question is not fair – it has facts in it – go away.

18 thoughts on “It’s only a RORT if you’re not in on it

  1. It is now the 15th July and it appears the Dinham story is now not worthy of discussion in the media in SA. People responding to media websites is OK, but sport stories are more important to report on TV and radio – there is no interest by media managers to have controversial discussion or reporting on their stations – they might upset sponsors.

  2. Heaven forbid, STT, Barnyard full of wind and Yubank & Co wouldn’t have a clue, there is no ‘peer reviewed’ science about that. Don’t upset them though, or you will be accused of an ‘ad hominem’ attack on them. As you say, they are only interested in ‘facts’, so you have no ‘ethics’ by asking that question in the first place, shame on you. You are telling ‘lies’ anyway, the wind was blowing somewhere, that’s why turbines are so efficient.

    If I said what I really thought, you wouldn’t allow it on here, we have been putting up with this crap for nearly two years. Barnyard doesn’t even live here, yet he has written reams and reams of garbage, trying to destroy Dr. Sarah Laurie’s reputation. He also got kicked off the King Island debate page, I don’t know what his agenda is, he must have too much free time.

    The way I see it, all of these pro wind bloggers are boxing at shadows, no one seems to be very interested in what they have to say.

    The ever rising power prices will be far more convincing than these fools and we will see the results of that on election day.

  3. At last something that made me laugh about wind energy. I wonder who has their hand up this “puppet” ?

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