STT Champions in Coalition Ranks – Craig Kelly & Keith Pitt – Turn on $46 Billion LRET Debacle

turbine fire 6

Craig Kelly and Keith Pitt: not the only things ‘on fire’.

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A week or so back, Tony Abbott’s Coalition struck a deal with Labor involving a $46 billion electricity tax aimed at salvaging what’s left of Australia’s wind industry (see our post here).

The ‘deal’ – which has passed the House of Reps – and is on its way to the Senate – is seen by thousands of people in rural communities spread out across the country as a betrayal, not only of their interests, but of the interests of the Nation as a whole (see our posts here and here).

One line from within the ranks is that the Coalition are playing for votes by backing “renewables”. However, there’s a mighty big distinction between the shiny solar panels on a suburban rooftop, and endless seas of bat-chomping, bird slicing, blade-chucking, pyrotechnic, sonic-torture devices. The former don’t bother anyone much; the latter drive those equipped with the full-range of earthly senses to a state just below (and sometimes above) white-hot fury:

Angry Wind Farm Victims Pull the Trigger: Turbines Shot-Up in Montana and Victoria

What Tony Abbott & Co need to pick up on (real fast) is the fact that it’s ONLY the lunatics of the hard-‘green’-left that are ready to die in a ditch to ‘save’ the wind industry – pumped up by astroturfing outfits like GetUp! – people that will never, ever vote for the Coalition.

While, on the other hand, actual (and potential) Conservative voters either have no time for a meaningless power source that wouldn’t get a look-in without the massive stream of REC subsidies (and whopping penalties) mandated under the LRET; or, if they’re hip to the scale and scope of the fraud, hold the view that this is just the latest in a recent line of insanely expensive sops to the global warming Chicken Littles, which should be shut down ASAP.

That politically obvious algorithm has – thankfully – not been lost on all of those on the so-called Conservative side of the House.

The Hunt/Macfarlane Infigen rescue package (see our post here) – quite rightly – drew more than a few raised eyebrows from the Coalition’s rank and file; and, better still, this pair of scorchingly good speeches from long-time STT Champion Craig “Ned” Kelly (for some of Craig’s earlier work, see our posts here and here); and a newcomer to STT’s ranks, Bundaberg boy, Keith Pitt.

Craig Kelly2

STT Champion, Craig “Ned” Kelly in action
at the Great Wind Power Fraud Rally.

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House of Representatives
Hansard
Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (18:58): I rise to speak on the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2015. Firstly, by way of background, the previous legislation had our renewable energy target set at 20 per cent of our electricity production by 2020. I am not sure what the wisdom of 20 per cent by 2020 was, other than that perhaps it had a nice sound or a nice ring to it. The RET as modelled in the original legislation would have required 41,000 gigawatts of electricity to be produced to achieve that 20 per cent target by 2020. But this was just another example of the reasons we need to always be aware of economic modellers when they believe they can foresee the future. As economic modelling often is, this was, again, hopelessly wrong. They did not factor in the effect that schemes such as the RET, the solar subsidies and the carbon tax—all these wonderful so-called green schemes!—would have on the price of electricity.

In the decade between 1990 and 2000, we had a four per cent total increase in the price of electricity. But, since 2007 to 2013, the price of electricity for Australian consumers and Australian households doubled. There was a 100 per cent increase from 2007. If electricity prices double—surprise, surprise!—you will get some reduction in demand. That is exactly what happened. It looks like our electricity demand will actually be 20 per cent less than where we expected it to be by 2020. again, That is 20 per cent less than what the experts foretold.

Currently, we are generating around 18,000 gigawatts of what is classified as renewable energy. This legislation in front of us that we are debating here today proposes to reduce the target down from 41,000 gigawatts to 33,000 gigawatts. Effectively, here today, we are locking in the need for this country to build another 15,000 gigawatts of electricity by 2020, the majority of which will come from wind turbines. This will effectively require around 2,000 additional wind turbines to be built throughout our nation. Many members, especially on the other side, have spoken up and said how wonderful this is. I would suggest that we could perhaps share the joy. We could each volunteer to have in our electorates a proportion of those 2,000 wind turbines. Then we will see how many members of parliament are still standing up and saying how wonderful this idea is to roll out another 2,000 wind turbines throughout our nation.

Here is the kicker: we as a nation do not need to spend one additional cent on any electricity generation capacity because we have a market that is oversupplied at the moment. So by resetting the target to 33,000 gigawatts all we are doing is creating a taxpayer subsidised, make-work program for the wind industry. Despite some of the nonsense peddled during this debate, wind turbines are simply not a cost-effective way to generate electricity. No-one in this country would build a wind turbine unless they received some type of subsidy. Wind turbines do not run on wind; they simply run on subsidies.

I have heard during this debate that somehow subsidising wind turbines will make the wholesale price of electricity cheaper. But ‘wholesale price’ is a completely meaningless term. It is simply a single cost point along the supply chain which is meaningless. What counts are the cost of production and the retail price to the consumer. It is an absolute and complete delusion to believe that we can somehow reduce the costs of electricity by mandating a higher cost and a more inefficient form of production. That is why this target simply will not work. In short, this legislation will lock in $20 billion worth of malinvestment in wind farms rather than $30 billion. Just think for a moment about all the things we need to do in our nation. Think of the opportunities lost and what could have been done with that $20 billion that will be unnecessarily spent building 2,000 wind turbines around this nation.

During this debate I heard the member for Rankin waxing lyrical about our nation’s investment in solar. I believe that sometime in the future solar electricity will have great potential in this nation. Currently, I understand that in some cases in remote locations where the cost of connecting to the grid is prohibitive stand-alone investments in solar can actually be economically viable today. But I suggest the member for Rankin take time to read the recently published report by the Grattan Institute on the cost to this nation of the various solar subsidies. The report revealed that there is a $14 billion asset transfer. It is a subsidy being paid by consumers who do not have solar panels on their roofs to consumers who do have solar panels on their roofs. So I say good luck to those who have taken up these schemes; they are getting a subsidy. But that subsidy—$14 billion of it—is being paid by the majority of citizens of this country who do not have solar panels on their roofs. The Grattan Institute found that, even if we make an allowance for the so-called climate benefits of solar, the costs outweigh the benefits by $9 billion. So the investment in solar in this country by 2030 will see $9 billion of our nation’s limited and precious resources—excuse my language, Deputy Speaker Goodenough—simply pissed up against the window.

What has greatly concerned me during this debate, listening to speaker after speaker from the Labor Party, is how clueless those opposite are about how we create wealth and prosperity in this country. The one way you do not create wealth and prosperity is by mandating the use of or having a compulsory requirement for a higher cost method of production. That is how you destroy wealth. That is how you destroy our prosperity. Our wealth and our prosperity is created by entrepreneurs, mainly our small business entrepreneurs, taking risks, experimenting with new ideas, trying out new methods of production, creating new goods and services, and investing in productive assets.

What we are doing by this bill—legislating 20 per cent of our electricity; a total of 33,000 gigawatts—is going backwards in our nation’s productivity. This is at a time when we need to be looking at how we can do things more productively. By locking in the construction of another 2,000 wind turbines, we are doing things that are less productive. That destroys our wealth and hampers our ongoing prosperity.

The other fallacy in this debate is that having all these subsidies will create all these wonderful jobs. Under this bill, for every job created, the cost of the subsidies is something like $200,000. That is a great idea. We could create many more jobs if the subsidies cost $200,000. But by building things we do not need, building things that are inefficient, we are simply costing this nation jobs. For every job we create through artificial schemes, through subsidies to build wind turbines, we are destroying more real jobs in the economy.

In this bill I note there is 100 per cent exemption for what are called emissions trade exposed industries. But that exemption merely exposes the fraud or stupidity of those who have talked up this bill. If the RET is really going to lower costs, why do we have the exemption? The exemption is there because this bill drives up the cost of electricity. If you exempt some industries from the harmful effects of the RET, others have to pay more. There are many unintended consequences of this bill, and time does not permit me to expand on them.

Many Labor speakers say the reason we need to have all these—and they deny the additional costs of them—is they deal with climate change. They believe that if we build 2,000 wind turbines across our nation somehow they will change the weather. In truth, the belief that building 2,000 wind turbines will change the weather is little different from those in primitive societies who believed we could change the weather by throwing 2,000 virgins down a volcano.

virgin sacrifice

Early – and equally futile – efforts to control the weather …

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The first question we should be asking ourselves is: how much CO2 will we reduce by building another 2,000 wind turbines? It is worth noting that a 1,000 megawatt wind farm produces seven million tonnes of carbon dioxide in component construction and concrete, and it requires almost 100,000 truckloads of concrete just for the footings. Then the wind farms need a 24/7 backup of carbon-dioxide-emitting coal fired or gas fired power stations. It is a question about how much if any carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced.

If we are serious about taking steps to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions and our footprint—

Mr Stephen Jones: Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek to intervene.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Goodenough): Is the member for Hughes willing to give way?

Mr CRAIG KELLY: No, I am not. I have a limited time and would rather continue. Most of the time I would be very happy to—

Mr Stephen Jones: No more virgins down volcanoes, I hope.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Hughes, please proceed.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: If we are really serious about reducing the carbon dioxide emissions in this country, building 2,000 wind turbines is a tokenistic act to make us feel good. If we are really serious about having to reduce CO2 what we should be doing is looking at replacing our coal fired power stations with nuclear power stations. That is what we should be doing. If we are fair dinkum. If we do not say that, we are simply hypocrites.

In the future, all of us would love to see renewable energy replace fossil fuel, but to do that we have to get renewable energy at a cost below that of fossil fuel. The best way we can do that is not to waste $20 billion on the construction and rollout of another 2,000 wind farms. That money should go into research and development. If we are able to create some form of renewable energy that is at a lower cost than coal or gas we can roll that out not only across the nation but also across the world. By going down the track of spending and investing that money, we are simply making ourselves poorer and making it more difficult for us to achieve that target.

I could go on with this bill for many hours. In conclusion, I appreciate the difficult job the ministers had in negotiating this renewable energy target. This is the least damaging of what was already a damaging bill. Yes, it would have been better if we had got that number lower. That would have made our country more prosperous. It would have helped us create more wealth. It would have helped us invest more resources into the research and development of renewable energy that would actually do the job—rather than simply waste $20 billion on the construction of these 2,000 wind turbines. I thank the House.

Hansard, 2 June 2015

No, STT didn’t write that brilliant rejoinder to the unsustainable lunacy that is the Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target and the Great Wind Power fraud. But we could have.

What Craig points out so well is the pointlessness of an ‘industry’ that can only survive if left to wallow in $46 billion in subsidies filched from all Australian power consumers:

Out to Save their Wind Industry Mates, Macfarlane & Hunt Lock-in $46 billion LRET Retail Power Tax

And that’s among the points well-picked-up by Queensland Federal LNP Member, Keith Pitt.

keith pitt

STT welcomes Keith Pitt to the team.

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Mr PITT (Hinkler) (18:34): I will not be supporting the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2015 that is currently before the Australian parliament. In my view, the renewable energy target—the RET, the deal the coalition has been forced into with Labor—will achieve only three things. It will increase the cost of electricity for those who can least afford it, Australian taxpayers will have spent billions of dollars subsidising private enterprise, and, come 2020, environmentalists will have little more to show for it than a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Let me explain. When I entered parliament in 2013 I was still a registered professional electrical engineer in the state of Queensland, and I promised to be a common-sense voice for the people of Hinkler and regional Australia. Over the past 18 months the issue raised most often with my office has been the spiralling cost of electricity—and for good reason. The median personal income in Hinkler is just $411 a week—just $411. A substantial number of pensioners call Hinkler home, and we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Unfortunately, many of Hinkler’s major employers are making workforce decisions based on the cost of energy—local foundries, farmers and manufacturers all say their overheads are rising at an unsustainable rate. Any relief businesses and households might have felt with the repeal of Labor’s carbon tax quickly turned to dismay when Queensland electricity retailers substantially increased their tariffs. The end result was a net price increase of about five per cent. It is no coincidence that in 2013-14 the number of households in regional Queensland disconnected for debt or non-payment rose 87 per cent to 12,454. The Fraser Coast Chronicle last week reported that the local Meals on Wheels electricity bill jumped from $5,700 to $12,200 in just one year. The not-for-profit organisation says it has only two choices if it is to remain viable: to either increase the price of the meals or find $85,000 to buy solar panels.

What is the solution? I have heard politicians on both sides tell people to shop around for the best rate. That might be possible in the capital cities, but there is generally only one retailer in most regional communities. The lack of market competition will only worsen if the Queensland Labor government proceeds with its plan to merge state-owned corporations Ergon, Energex and Powerlink. The merger, combined with already high electricity prices, falling energy consumption and the renewable energy target, will result in substantial job losses in the energy sector. We heard a lot from the Electrical Trades Union during the January 2015 state election, but why aren’t they out there actively fighting for their members’ jobs right now?

In his second reading speech to this bill, the Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, said the renewable energy target introduced by the Rudd government resulted in:

… new subsidised capacity … being forced into an oversupplied electricity market …

I appreciate the government is trying to put the RET on a sustainable footing, but, in my view, this current legislation will still result in an increase in power prices, paid for by the people who can least afford it. Australians are using less electricity now than they were 10 years ago. The AEMO Electricity statement of opportunities report in August 2014 stated:

More than 7,500 MW would need to be removed from the market to affect supply-adequacy in 2014-15.

There is potentially between 7,650 MW and 8,950 MW of surplus capacity across the NEM in 2014-15.

Under any risk scenario, no additional capacity is required for at least 10 years. It also states that approximately 90 per cent of this excess is in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. Furthermore: As operational consumption grows, the level of surplus capacity decreases. However, even with 10 years of consumption growth, by 2023-24 between 1,100 MW and 3,100 MW of capacity could still be withdrawn from each of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria without breaching the reliability standard.

The problem is that forecast consumption is expected to fall by 1.1 per cent per year at a minimum.

Current renewable technologies like wind and solar do not reliably generate power on a constant basis, and so the baseload coal or gas fired power stations still have to maintain capacity for peak use times when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. Most of that peak occurs in the evening, after dark and, in many locations, when it is calm. Without some type of affordable storage system, there is no option but to maintain baseload power, and that will continue to force up the price of electricity. Put simply, if your running costs remain the same and you are selling less product, the next logical step is to increase the price of the product to be able to maintain your operations.

However, the Australian Energy Regulator, the AER, has advised of its plans to restrict Ergon Energy’s proposed revenue by 27 per cent over the next five years, well below the $8.24 billion that Ergon requested. The measure is expected to save Ergon customers between $16 and $44 in network charges on their bills each year. The savings would have been substantially higher if not for the exorbitant feed-in tariff offered to solar users by the former Queensland Labor government. In very simple terms, the AER makes its decisions based on how much the businesses need to spend delivering electricity prudently through the distribution network, putting an end to the so-called ‘gold-plating’ that occurred in the Beattie years. The AER says any costs above efficient levels are to be funded by the network owners and not the customers. On the one hand, federally we are trying to keep power prices down for consumers by reducing the operating expenses and revenue of electricity companies; but, on the other hand, our current environmental policies are inflating the price of electricity because, without baseload power, you have to start turning the lights off.

The public expects coal fired energy companies to maintain the same availability and readiness, but the renewable energy target encourages people to use more renewables in an already oversupplied market. To give you a simple example, I spoke with a pensioner in my electorate last week. He gets up in the middle of the night, each and every night, to turn off his refrigerator so he does not use as much electricity. He relies on his rooftop solar to power the fridge during the day, and he would rather risk food poisoning than run up an electricity bill that he cannot afford to pay.

I would support the move towards renewable energy if wind, solar and battery technology actually worked—meaning if it were capable of reliably supplying electricity during peak periods to replace traditional baseload power generators. Plus, the cost at this point in time is astronomical.

Under this bill, $15 billion will be spent over the next five years on infrastructure that will run concurrently with coal fired generators, supplying into a market that is excessively supplied. Broad estimates by the department indicate that renewable energy certificates from 2015 to 2030, at an average of $47 per certificate, will cost $24 billion. If the RECs are allowed to reach penalty at $93, the cost to users will be $43 billion. Can you imagine the response if we went to the Australian people and said they needed to contribute an additional $43 billion through their electricity pricing as a surcharge? To meet the target, Australia will need to build as many renewable generators in five years as we have built over the past 15—all of which will need to be replaced in the short to medium term, when the technology outdates and the equipment deteriorates. Putting aside the cost of building the infrastructure, renewable energy is extremely expensive to generate. Coal fired power costs about $36 per megawatt hour to produce, compared to $190 per megawatt hour for solar and up to $120 for wind. If renewable energy were a sound investment, governments would not need to subsidise private businesses with renewable energy certificates.

I find it absurd that we on the conservative side of politics have abandoned the stated belief in the free market to reach a deal with Labor. Labor’s recalcitrance will only hurt the very people they always purport to represent, and that is the poor. The Coalition’s Direct Action Plan costs around $14.50 per tonne of carbon abated at its first auction. That is compared to $25 under Labor’s carbon tax and a whopping $95 to $175 per tonne of carbon abated through the renewable energy target for the small systems scheme. Rather than subsidising jobs in private renewable energy businesses to the tune of almost $200,000 each over the period 2015 to 2030, we should be spending taxpayers’ funds on research to advance renewable technologies that have real promise—growing our fuel, finding cheap and effective storage sources and ensuring ongoing jobs in Australian manufacturing through competitive energy pricing. The enormous buckets of money thrown at renewable research by Labor was haphazard and predominantly unsuccessful in large-scale trials.

I have personally worked in hydro power stations that have been operational for more than 50 years and they will continue to work into the future. These plants provide a multiplying effect into the local economy, providing water storage, generating capacity and long-term infrastructure with real benefits. They are a true renewable, with their energy source replenished every time it rains. The greatest of these installations is, of course, the Snowy hydro scheme. Hydros can be used as peakers. They are flexible and can be run up quickly, and at night, when there is no wind or sun, they still work.

If you really want to do something about emissions, we need to be having a proper debate about zero-emission next-generation nuclear technology. If you want renewables, we should consider growing the fuel source. Spend money on research for natural fuel sources such as biomass, where every year 100 per cent of the fuel supply can be regrown, providing long-term jobs. There is a proposal floating around for loans for irrigators to install solar pumps. Unfortunately, they will only be able to irrigate when the sun is shining—and it is back to the bad old days of watering in the middle of the day, when evaporation is at its highest. All of those years of water-use efficiency and capital installation down the drain. Typically, irrigation only occurs during times of low rainfall and drought, when water is scarce, but it is either be killed by electricity bills or invest in capital.

The public perception is that we have not done enough with respect to renewable energy. In fact, there was a large amount of capacity before the target was even set. The price of installing rooftop PV solar has fallen substantially. In terms of installed capacity, that is, gigawatts, rather than generation, that is, gigawatt hours, coal is currently only providing around 50 per cent of the energy mix. To even come close to meeting the target set in this bill, around 1,500 to 2,000 wind turbines would need to be built. Wind turbines are intrusive, ineffectual and always best placed in your neighbour’s property, and out of view of your own. The remaining sites capable of having any chance of even 30 per cent utilisation for wind turbines are very limited, because you need a location where the wind blows consistently, of which there are not that many. And it should be close to where the energy is used.

Do I honestly think they can install the capacity needed to meet the reduced target? My answer is no. We will be back having this debate again in two or three years’ time, when it becomes apparent that even huge subsidies will not be enough to get sufficient facilities built. If you want to subsidise businesses, subsidise exporters that create long-term jobs. Do not subsidise businesses that devalue and destroy assets already predominantly owned by the taxpayer.

Every business owner in my electorate would like to have the upper hand against their competitors. They would love to receive a guaranteed price for the products they produce, regardless of need, subsidised by someone else. If—and I say if—Australia meets its 2020 renewable energy target, it will not be because we have created an economically self-sustaining, reliable source of renewable energy. People will be using less coal-fired electricity for one reason only: they simply cannot afford it.

Hansard, 2 June 2015

Nice work Keith! Another effort that could have been pulled straight from STT’s pages.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Any policy that is unsustainable will either fail under its own steam; or its creators will eventually be forced to scrap it. Endless streams of massive subsidies for a meaningless power source fits the “unsustainable” tag to a T.

At least two of Tony Abbott’s team have had the temerity to stand up and point out the politically bleeding obvious: the LRET is a disaster that the Coalition should have killed a long time ago. Now, left to fester, it’s liable to be their very undoing.

Tony Abbott 18.12.13

Tony, time to stop talking and start listening to the
common sense dished up by Craig Kelly and Keith Pitt.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Tony, pull the REC, and see if these dirty windweasel grubs can survive, and then reconsider if we need fans, which we won’t.

  2. Terry Conn says:

    Two men with common sense and an appreciation that ‘reality’ is important.

    Abbott has struck out big time in relation to this RET deal. Now it won’t be his long term enemies that see him ‘gone’ but, rather, his ‘formerly’ long term rusted on supporters, and they don’t all live in the ‘irrelevant’ bush.

    Time and again I have argued that ‘leadership’ was all that was required to ‘educate’ the voters as to the truth about ‘wind farms’ and ‘solar’. Well the 2 backbenchers above have done their bit, the rest are beneath contempt.

  3. Hopefully the senate will have the sense to block the bill until the Senate Inquiry into wind turbines is completed.

  4. Jim Hutson. says:

    Two years ago the Prime Minister shook my hand and listened as I told him how wind turbine victims are suffering. He said that he knew and was genuinely concerned. Now with the RET he has sentenced hundreds if not thousands of country people to the list of a life of upheaval and despair.

    Last August the Premier of NSW also shook my hand and promised to come and see first hand our wind farm and what it has done to the lives, and the misery created to those living nearby.

    Have not seen or heard from him since.

    To those members of the Senate and Representatives who acknowledge what a farce wind energy is, you are our only hope, and by that I mean our country’s only hope.

    Sincere thanks.

  5. No Turbines says:

    Thanks STT for bringing us these spine-tingling speeches full of logic.

    Those politicians who don’t “get it” either haven’t looked at it closely or have a vested interest in supporting their wind industry mates.

    Let’s make sure the Senators get wised-up very quickly, especially crossbench Senators Lambie, Lazarus and Muir.

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