The new protectionism: renewable energy industry’s shameless self-promotion
5 December 2014
According to Christopher Flavin, the President emeritus of the Worldwatch Institute, in a few years’ time wind energy will not need to be subsidised. Oh wait! He said that back in 1984.
And he was not alone, Booz, Allen & Hamilton did a report in 1983 saying the same thing as did Amory Lovins and the American Wind Energy Association testified that California Energy Commission had predicted wind would soon be cheaper than all other plants.
Politicians and the mainstream media persist in their faith in the pronouncements these ideologically committed and interested parties continue to make.
And so it is here in Australia. The debate on the continuation of the Renewable Energy Target continues, even though its direct impost on the Australian community will be $29-38 billion, and its indirect costs much greater.
One of the mouthpieces for the industry, Business Spectator’s Tristan Edis, has declared that the rorters of the energy consumer in the wind industry find it totally unacceptable that the Renewable Energy Target should be reduced. They want their subsidies maintained.
Earlier this week there was an “emergency Clean Energy Summit” meeting called by the South Australian Premier. According to its Communique seventy “clean energy and community leaders” attended but, in addition to the usual array of state public servants, these seem to have been confined to the renewable industry royalty and their advisers.
Speakers included John Hewson, who demonstrated his incisive wit by saying, “if you’re talking about barnacles, get rid of this one.” (and no, he did not mean get rid of the RET). Also preaching was Ross Garnaut who “discussed the underlying economics influencing the sector and explained that Australia has a natural advantage for low-cost production of renewable energy. He explained how the low cost of renewables would create a cost advantage for local industry into the long-term future.” There would have been some insights there!
The Summit urged the government to keep forcing consumers to give money to the industry so that it could continue to employ people and finance campaigns that undermine the economy.
With a product that cannot possibly be competitive without massive subsidies, it is understandable that the renewables sector would target a great deal of their expenditure on marketing to the political actors and into Get Up’s tv ads.
Keen observations and insights there from Alan Moran – as usual. But spearing Christopher Flavin’s piffle, from way back in 1984, that “in a few years’ time wind energy will not need to be subsidised” holds the same degree of challenge as shooting fish in a barrel.
The wind industry, its parasites and spruikers – like The Climate Speculator’s, Tristan Edis – are still running the same line 30 years later. Hmmm ….
In order to counter the recent challenge to the LRET and its insane cost to power consumers, these boys have been pedaling the fantasy that wind power is (now) competitive with conventional generation sources – see this piece of twaddle from ruin-economy, for example. The teensy, weensy internal flaw in their pitch about the cost of wind power unravels when its propaganda merchants – like Edis – find it “totally unacceptable that the Renewable Energy Target should be reduced”.
So which is it, Tristan?
Is wind power a truly competitive power generation source and, therefore, capable of selling itself without the need for the $50 billion worth of Renewable Energy Certificates, to be collected by retailers through retail power bills as a tax on all Australian power consumers and delivered to wind power outfits as a guaranteed subsidy over the next 17 years? (Retailers have a “choice”, of course: it’s either purchase wind power to pick up RECs or get whacked with a $65 per MWh fine). See our posts here and here and here.
Or – is wind power just a perpetual infant, that will never “grow up” – because, in the absence of massive subsidies and punishing fines, retailers wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole? See our posts here and here.
The carry-on from energy policy pygmies – like SA’s vapid Labor Premier, Jay Weatherill and John Hewson – is little more than the whining we’ve come to expect from the profiteers and rent seekers that pretend to give a fig about Australia’s economic future.
Weatherill’s intervention to help try and save the wind industry is perfectly aligned with the Labor/Union/Union Super Fund model of building Labor’s political war-chest by profiting handsomely from the $billions they’ve invested in wind power outfits, like Pac Hydro – while happily belting power consumers, punishing cash-strapped families and smashing businesses (see our posts here and here).
John Hewson – the bloke that lost the Liberals the unloseable 1993 Federal election when, during a TV interview, he couldn’t explain the impact of his proposed GST (consumption tax) on the cost of a birthday cake – is so in bed with the wind industry that they, no doubt, have fights about who gets their fair share of the quilt.
Hewson has become the paid-up front man for the ‘green’-Stalinists at the Australia Institute, where he’s taken to slamming the real energy sector and promoting the fantasy that wind power will, somehow, “save” the planet.
The Australia Institute pitches itself as the intellectual saviour of Australian politics – but it’s staffed and headed up by the lunatic fringe of the hard-‘green’-left – and is nothing more than a highly paid propaganda arm of wind power outfits and crooks like Danish fan makers, Vestas. Among its manifestos, is the destruction of Australia’s economy by killing off its mining industry – using plenty of lies and masses of deception in its efforts to do so.
But, with Hewson, there could just be a scintilla of mercenary self-interest in play.
Hewson has been heavily tied up with investment banks – like Macquarie, as well as a number of Super Funds – that have invested heavily in the great wind power fraud: his recent rantings about saving the LRET are obviously directed at protecting their (and his) investments; and in keeping the REC gravy train rolling for years to come.
But it’s the hysterical hectoring from Hewson and Weatherill etc that tends to give the real game away: an “emergency Clean Energy Summit”. Really? Sure the wind industry’s on life-support, but, thanks to policy pygmies like Weatherill, so is South Australia.
Fitting it was, that the wind power fraudsters’ little “emergency” wind power “love-in” took place in Adelaide, SA.
Thanks, in no small part, to its insane wind-rush, South Australians are forced to pay the highest retail power prices in the world (for the details on why, see our post here).
Last week saw the announcement that, yet another, energy intensive business had folded in SA: a metal foundry owned by Bradken will close next year – with the loss of 120 jobs. Bradken’s executive general manager of mineral processing Brad Ward, attributed the closure of the plant to, among other things, “the high costs of … utilities that make the foundry ‘unsustainable’.”
The 120 workers and their families really will have an “emergency” on their hands, as they struggle to find new jobs in a State that’s going backwards at the speed of sound; and that, thanks to its crippling power costs, has the highest rate of unemployment among the mainland States (see our post here).
Adding to their woes will be the cost of powering their homes – especially if they fail to find any kind of employment.
It’s not just businesses that are copping a belting from SA’s insanely costly effort to rely on wind power: thousands of households can no longer afford power at all.
South Australia has nation’s highest rate of power disconnections
10 November 2014
SOUTH Australia has the highest rate of power disconnection in the nation and the number of households having their supply cut has doubled in four years to more than 10,000, a report shows.
The number of people going without electricity due to financial hardship has reached crisis point and requires action from the State Government and the energy industry, according to peak welfare lobby group SACOSS.
SACOSS, which commissioned the report, also wants the industry watchdog ESCOSA to investigate “who is being disconnected, why this is so and how disconnections across water, electricity and gas retailers relate.”
The report shows the number of householders disconnected from the power network jumped to more than 10,500 in 2012/13 — up from less than 4,800 in 2009/10.
And SA has the highest rate of disconnection in the nation, with 1.5 householders in every 100 having their power cut in 2012/13 — three times the rate recorded in Tasmania and significantly greater than the next highest rate of 1.07 recorded in Victoria.
The report included interviews with vulnerable people who had their power cut — including a woman who had significant debt because she was running medical and heating appliances for her terminally ill daughter at home.
Another woman, 19, said she had to choose between eating and paying her electricity bill, while a 36-year-old female said she had to stick bubble wrap on her windows to “keep out the cold” and reduce her energy use and bills.
The report found a combination of the highest electricity charges in the nation with “a higher proportion of low income households’’ in SA contributed to the state’s high rate of disconnections.
SACOSS executive director Ross Womersley said the Government should index its energy concession “to ensure it actually maintains its real value in line with price increases.”
“The concession has been blitzed by actual price increases — it’s little wonder people on low incomes are struggling to meet these rising costs and that the level of disconnections continue to rise.
“As importantly, retailers need to ensure they have the best possible hardship programs in place to try and prevent people who haven’t got the means to pay ever being disconnected.’’
The Government said it has “introduced a range of measures aimed at reducing cost-of-living pressures on South Australian families”, which SACOSS has welcomed.
Communities and Social Inclusion Minister Zoe Bettison said the Government “is having ongoing discussions in regards to disconnections in South Australia”.
She said recent measures taken by the government included:
INCREASING the energy and medical heating and cooling concession by $50 to a maximum of $215 per annum.
REPLACING more than 1000 costly electric hot water systems with solar systems in public housing.
INVESTING $935,000 to increase the number of financial counselling positions across the State.
COMMITTING $235,000 annually to the Affordable SA helpline (1800 025 539) which assists households to manage their cost-of-living expenses.
Note that when the article talks about disconnections in SA hitting 10,500 in 2012/13, it’s talking about annual “rates” of disconnection: around two-thirds of those will not be reconnected.
In SA, the number of households that are currently disconnected from the grid – and face the indignity and misery of a life without electricity – is in the order of 50,000 (from a population of around 1.6 million).
That’s 50,000 homes disconnected from the grid because they can no longer afford to pay their power bills – the rate of disconnections has doubled in less than 10 years and increased dramatically since 2012. These people have taken to lighting their homes with candles, and, unable to power a fridge, using Eskies (coolers) to keep their perishables – cooking on wood stoves and trying to keep warm using barbeques.
Now there’s a real EMERGENCY.
But the SA Labor government’s “response” (sketched out in the article above) is like the pyro-maniac fireman: having started the blaze, it wants to be seen with hose in hand – “rescuing” those its actions placed in peril in the first place.
A while back we covered SA Labor’s plans to run “re-education” camps for SA’s poorest and most vulnerable, where, no doubt, they will be given survival tips such as: how to effectively light a home with candles; how to cook with a kero stove; and how to stay warm by using more blankets (see our post here).
The Greens subscribe to same “we’ll crush them with spiralling power costs, then [somehow, magically] ‘save’ the day” style (see our post here). Hmmm …
Instead of plumping for a policy of delivering cheap, reliable sparks – Labor holds a wind power “love-in” in an effort to ensure South Australians will continue to be belted by the highest power prices in the world – for generations to come – and that thousands of households will never again be able to afford what was – only a few years back – seen as a basic necessity of decent, domestic life.
The cases of the 19 year old woman being left “to choose between eating and paying her electricity bill”; and that of the 36-year-old female sticking bubble wrap on her windows to “keep out the cold” and reduce her energy use and bills – are not just avoidable social tragedies.
Against the backdrop of Labor’s push for more of the same at its “emergency Clean Energy Summit” – the tens of thousands of cases like these represent nothing less than malign, political contempt for the poorest and most vulnerable in society – a class of people who traditionally look to the Labor Party to help them. But the “workers’ party” couldn’t care less about the poor – this is all about fattening up Union Super Funds, controlled by them and their union mates; and lining their own pockets along the way.