Wind Industry Ponzi Scheme Collapsing: Pacific Hydro’s “Downfall”

turbine-2_3153749b

It’s not just gravity that’s against them.

****

Pacific Hydro is a name synonymous with wind industry skulduggery in Australia: the merciless treatment of its victims at Cape Bridgewater has been added to the annals of Australian corporate infamy, right up there with Aussie asbestos pedlar, James Hardie (see our post here).

Pac Hydro has copped a pasting for riding roughshod over the rights of its neighbours’ lawful rights to live in and otherwise enjoy their – now practicably unliveable – homes from the Senators on the Inquiry into the great wind power fraud.

We have already covered the evidence given by Steven Cooper, the author of the groundbreaking study into the harm caused by Pacific Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater disaster, as well as the brilliant report on the Inquiry by Today Tonight’s Rodney Lohse:

Senate’s Wind Farm Inquiry: Steven Cooper’s Evidence on his Groundbreaking Study

Today Tonight Reports on Senate Inquiry Into the Great Wind Power Fraud

Now, its slap-dash approach to management, and all-round corporate malfeasance, has caught up with it, with an almighty vengeance.

Pac Hydro is the bastard child of IFM Investors – born of the $billions that are collected from workers and thrown into what are called “Union Super Funds” – ie “superannuation”: compulsory retirement savings schemes – owned and controlled by union heavies, like Garry Weaven and/or Labor Party front men; like former Environment Minister, Greg Combet.

Combet, Weaven & Co are the driving force behind the great wind power fraud in Australia. It was Combet who lobbied for, and obtained, the massive increase in Australia’s Renewable Energy Target to 45,000 GWh (4,000 as “small-scale” solar; and 41,000 as “large-scale”, ie wind power).

But these boys set up the “rules” with only one real “target” in mind; and that was making fat piles of cash themselves, using bucket loads of other peoples’ money: being able to make massive profits without any personal risk is a rare and beautiful thing.

But the risk has been realised; and it’s mums and dads who are paying, and will continue to pay, the ultimate price.

Pac Hydro clocked up one of the largest corporate losses ever seen in Australian corporate history: you need to think back to Alan Bond, Chris Skase and the massive corporate implosions that took place at the end of the crazy 80s, to find anything of the same scale.

Pac Hydro’s books apparently record a loss of $685 million – the Australian Financial Review says “$700 million” – but with losses of that magnitude a lazy $15 million is probably just a rounding error.

From what STT can glean, around half of that figure is attributable to losses incurred by Pac Hydro’s wind farm operations in Australia (it’s pretty hard to get a bead on the numbers when, as the AFR explained, the company is going to “extraordinary lengths to keep [its review into the losses] under wraps”.

Just how a wind power outfit enjoying the most ludicrously massive industry subsidies provided in the history of the Australian Commonwealth can “lose” $700 million of workers’ superannuation money is a riddle wrapped in an enigma. And IFM and Pac Hydro have pulled out all stops to keep their dodgy-deeds under wraps:

Pacific Hydro’s Ponzi Scheme Implodes: Wind Power Outfit Loses $700 Million of Mum & Dad Retirement Savings

It’s against that background, that IFM Investors has decided to stem the bleeding by throwing, its once little ‘darling’, Pac Hydro to the wolves. Here’s The Australian reporting on how low things go, when there’s no honour among thieves.

PacHydro for sale as wind shifts
The Australian
Andrew White
17 April 2015

Rising volatility in electricity markets and continuing uncertainty over the future of the federal government’s renewable energy target have prompted industry superannuation fund manager IFM Investors to put its Pacific Hydro business on the market.

It is believed IFM fielded several offers for the business after it took a hefty $675 million writedown last year linked to the uncertainty around the federal government’s plans for the renewable energy target as well as tax changes in Chile that hurt returns from its hydro investments there.

It is understood that IFM received informal expressions of interest in the assets last year following publicity about the writedowns. But the Australian business could also appeal to local energy retailers such as AGL if they are short of contracted renewable energy supply to meet the target when it is finalised. From lows in the $20 range the price of renewable energy certificates has been moving higher amid the continuing hiatus in new generating capacity.

Declining power usage in Australia and mooted changes to the RET — a scheme that subsidises investment in solar, wind and hydro-electricity generation — have undermined the case for IFM to hold the investment as core infrastructure.

The federal government plans to cut the RET from 41,000 gigawatt hours of generation to 32,000 gigawatt hours remain deadlocked, with the Clean Energy Council and the Labor opposition insisting the target be cut to no less than 33,500 gigawatt hours. Investment in new renewables generation capacity has all but dried up since the government announced a review in February last year while the price of the renewable energy certificates — sold by power companies to energy retailers — collapsed into the low $20 range, undermining investment returns.

But given the ongoing uncertainty, the decision to appoint advisers on a sale also follows a period of board upheaval, with IFM Investors chief executive Brett Himbury and industry super figure Garry Weaven departing the Pacific Hydro board in the wake of the writedowns.

Pacific Hydro’s profits rebounded to $12m in financial 2014 from a $42.6m loss a year earlier, according to accounts filed with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were $41.8m, down from $75.2m, but the bottom line was affected by $33.6m of equity-accounted profits from joint venture companies, compared to $37.9m of losses the previous year from those same interests.

IFM acquired Pacific Hydro in 2004, paying $788m at the time in a contested on-market takeover.

Investment banks Credit Suisse and Bank of America Merrill Lynch have been appointed to advise on the sale of Pacific Hydro for a mooted $2bn after a series of approaches to IFM about selling the wind and hydro-electricity operator. The banks are believed to be exploring a range of options, which could include the sale of all or part of the business, including separate offshore businesses in Chile and Brazil.
The Australian

For all the moaning about the impact of “uncertainty” surrounding the LRET, it has to be remembered that there has been no change at all to the target in the 5 years since Combet & Co upped it to 41,000 GWh, back in 2010 (for a rundown see this article).

What’s in play is the fact that the wind industry business ‘model’ has nothing to do with ‘business’ at all: it’s always and everywhere about milking taxpayers and power consumers, as part of the greatest State-sanctioned rort of all time.

As STT has pointed out, once or twice, the LRET – upon which the ‘value’ of Pac Hydro (and every other wind power outfit) depends – is unsustainable on every level: economic, social and political.

Australia’s power retailers are alive to that fact, and have determined to quicken its inevitable demise:

Wind Industry Armageddon: Power Retailers Win Round One in Battle to Kill LRET

Trying to find a buyer ready to stump up the $2 billion ‘mooted’ by the banks given the task of flogging Pac Hydro in one piece is one mighty big ask.

Chances are that the mounting mess will be busted up – the operations in Chile and Brazil going to local operators there – and that its Australian wind power ‘assets’ will be acquired for $1 dollar, in exchange for the buyer’s assumption of its rising costs, falling revenues, mounting debts and plummeting asset value.

To make the sale palatable, Pac Hydro will, no doubt, have to crack-on on with its announcement to sack 25% of its staff, in order to slash its operating costs. But it may well need to lop more heads than that, if IFM wants to entice a bidder.

That the principal investor – in what was once seen as an Australian wind powered wonder – is itching to get Pac Hydro off its books asap, speaks volumes about the ‘future’ of the wind industry.

Now, while STT isn’t chalking up Pac Hydro’s Downfall to Steve Cooper’s groundbreaking Cape Bridgewater study, others have, as seen in this piece of breaking news:

****

****

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. clive hoskin says:

    How come anything associated with “Global Warming or Climate Change” is a scam? Without “Fossil Fuels” to back up wind and solar, they are useless.

  2. Agree with Melissa.

    Maybe a idea for STT in a future posting? What is involved in
    Instigating a Royal Commission?

  3. I agree with ‘Uncle Fester’. It’s great to be heard, there now has to be meaningful response and action by our Government for resolution. If no explanation or accountability from these Departments etc. is forthcoming for their lack of due diligence, for the years of shuffling us around or trying to bury us, then surely a long overdue Royal Commission into this calamity of industrialised wind farming would. Investigating also, the lack of planning and regulation that allows ongoing noise issues for people being horribly impacted near other industrial sources of noise too.

  4. We knew this fraudulent scam was always going to come to an end, and that was not rocket science either. What is going now is making people like Chapman, Milne & co look like fools, which they are.

  5. Uncle Fester says:

    Maybe the current planning departments of all of the turbine affected states should be made to watch this play out. Hopefully they will be forced to attend and explain to the Inquiry why they have chosen to forsake the best interests of local communities in favour of the wind industry, and be forced to demonstrate to the Inquiry that they have exercised due diligence and probity.

  6. Wasn’t too hard to predict that when the last turbine of Stage 4 of the Portland wind endergy project was constructed they’d wash their hands of it all, by bailing out.

    They fail at protecting the land and its inhabitants, they fail to obtain further or functional social licence to operate at CB, they failed at resolving the issues of noise, vibration and sensation, they fail at establishing good will and relations, they failed to be good neighbours and in a ‘country’ where people depend on each other in times of crisis, failure to be dependable or trustworthy or reliable is unacceptable. They totally fail at building an energy system that works! They duped the townsfolk and they duped the farming folk. And failure lies in bribing towns with so called ‘community funding’ and the gagging that comes with it.

    You don’t have to know your neighbours to be good ones, these slickers (to be polite) have no idea of the sustaining strength, fortitude and straight out resilience that rural people around this nation have. They don’t know us. Most slickers seem too young, too insulated, too brainwashed, too greedy. They don’t know our history but they’re learning that their industrial sized greed at the expense of our health and livelihoods will never be accepted.

    We have followed all the protocols, filled out the paperwork and tried our damnedest to put up with unbearable conditions. Pacific Hydro failed us and its own ethics and standards.

    No more.

    The Senate Inquiry has done major things already, it came to Portland, it gave adversely impacted individuals a chance to speak out and these good Senators questioned, probed and have heard.

    This is democracy and granting a fair go in action; if nothing else is achieved knowing how neighbours of IWEF’s across the South West of Victoria and around Australia and the mistreatment to us by PH and the GSC etc. will not be treated lightly nor with ongoing contempt or dismissal and is a satisfying start under the terms of reference of this Senate Inquiry into Wind Farms.

    It’s not too late no matter where you live or how wind turbines impact you, to write a sensible paragraph or a page, to write in confidentiality or simply tell it how it is for you, just as you can. Under the terms of reference we whom have been subjugated by this industry for too long also have a right to be heard which is being honoured.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: