Wind Power Costs Crushing South Australian Businesses: Firms Hit with 90% Price Hike

koutsantonis

No time for napping, Tom – this is serious.

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South Australia embarked upon its wind power ‘experiment’ more than 15 years ago, when its Labor government climbed into bed with the boys from Babcock & Brown (aka Infigen) and a disgraced American lawyer and convicted con-man, Tim Flato (who robbed his clients of close to US$400,000, got struck-off, and scuttled off to set up the wind industry in SA and elsewhere). Clearly untroubled by Tim’s ‘colourful’ past his compatriots happily appointed him as a director of several of Babcock and Brown’s subsidiaries and, later, as a director of Infigen.

Tim, and his Babcock and Brown buddies, were all aided in their endeavour by Patrick Gibbons and his best mate, Vesta’s Ken McAlpine (back when they both worked as advisers to a Labor Minister in Victoria, Theo Theophanous) (see our post here). Patrick now runs the wind industry’s lobbying efforts as Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt’s staffer. It’s a stinky cologne, for sure.

But, ensuring the political wheels get properly greased to the wind industry’s advantage has other costs.

And those costs are laid bare for all to see, as the disastrous results of SA’s wind power ‘experiment’ unfold.

The grid is a spark away from collapse (more, and more widespread, blackouts and power ‘interruptions’ are inevitable when Alinta’s Port Augusta plant closes in a couple of months); and power prices – already the highest in the Country (if not the world on a purchasing power parity basis) are set to double, again.

It’s vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill and his Energy Minister, Tom Koutstantonis seem oblivious to the scale of the economic calamity, that’s befallen a State that already suffers from the worst unemployment in the Nation – worse even than perpetual basket case, Tasmania.

Here’s the AFR detailing the disaster in the eyes of energy hungry businesses, that have just been hit with a 90% increase in their power bills; with far worse to come; and no end to their misery, anywhere in sight.

SA business fears years of high costs
Australian Financial Review
Ben Potter and Simon Evans
2 March 2016

Power prices in South Australia have jumped 90 per cent

Steven Mouzakis got a shock last year when he negotiated a new electricity supply deal for Brickwork’s Austral brick factory at Golden Grove, South Australia for 2016.

“The energy price increased by 90 per cent,” Mr Mouzakis, the company’s Sydney-based national energy and sustainability manager, said. “How can we operate a business with energy costs increasing at 90 per cent?”

BHP Billiton, which owns the giant copper-gold mine at Olympic Dam 572 kilometres north of Adelaide, is also suffering from South Australia’s volatile electricity market.

“Security and reliability of power, as well as price increases for electricity in the forward market, are areas of concern for Olympic Dam,” a BHP Billiton spokesman said.

The mining giant, which has cut 500 jobs at Olympic Dam in the past year, was one of several large electricity customers to attend a meeting on electricity prices hosted by the Weatherill government last Wednesday.

Prices for electricity in 2017 and 2018 are $80 to $90 per megawatt hour, which is twice the price in Victoria. SA business groups fear they will be stuck with high prices for years after the meeting heard there were no short-term fixes for the squeeze.

Austral bricks

Austral Bricks General Manager David Robertson grappling
with a further 90% power price increase in SA.

***

An electricity price jump of 90 per cent translates into the total electricity bill for the Golden Grove brick plant – which is run by general manager David Robertson – jumping about 40 per cent with distribution and supplier margins. Mr Mouzakis doesn’t hesitate to finger the culprit: the Weatherill government’s obsession with leading the nation in renewable energy. “We have seen a massive uptake of renewable energy in South Australia, and a reduction in baseload,” he said. “That’s really impacted on the forward prices.”

There was little to lift the gloom at the government’s meeting.

“It’s unlikely there are going to be any short-term fixes, particularly for the large users. They are going to have to be more pro-active and more sophisticated in how they manage their price risk,” said Business SA senior policy adviser Andrew McKenna.

“How long do we accept that South Australia has got a forward wholesale price essentially double that of Victoria, and how long can the wider SA economy sustain that?”

The electricity squeeze is a problem for other large customers like Belgian metals group Nyrstar, which wants to buy electricity at a predictable price when it fires up the Port Pirie base metals smelter rather than take its chances in a volatile spot market.

Supply of conventional baseload power in South Australia is tightening as wind power subsidised under the Renewable Energy Target policy is offered to the local market for very low – sometimes negative – prices.

This is driving some coal and gas generators out, leaving the state heavily dependent when the wind drops on a couple of gas turbines and a high voltage link to Victoria’s brown power stations – and vulnerable to spot market spikes.

“We have been the state that has taken on more of the Renewable Energy Target burden than any other state and that’s coming back to bite us,” Mr McKenna said.

The meeting hosted by the government heard from consultants CQ Partners that the loss of the Northern coal-fired power station in May on top of earlier baseload power plant closures will leave the market illiquid and retailers and customers heavily dependent on AGL Energy and Origin Energy, the dominant generators still in the market. With gas prices two to three times their past prices, new gas power plants are unlikely to be built and would have a generating cost of $70 to $75 a megawatt hour.

Mr McKenna said solutions proffered at the meeting were long term – an unfunded proposal by AGL to build grid-scale battery storage, and a smart grid proposal from Siemens of Germany to store surplus renewable energy in hydrogen fuel cells.

The high voltage transmission line to Victoria’s brown coal power stations is being upgraded to 650 megawatts in two stages by March 2017.

Mr Mouzakis said the expanded capacity was unlikely to be enough since if it was “we’d have seen a reduction in forward prices and we are not seeing that”.

“We need some kind of mechanism either to rationalise capacity or to support capacity when we continue to need it and we have got to stop pretending that this is a market and it’ll just sort itself out when we have got this other massive intervention in the market.”

Mr Hyslop, whose clients have included the Energy Supply Association of Australia, the federal government’s RET review and the Queensland Competition Authority, said it would be even more important to deal with NEM design issues if Labor won government and implemented a 50 per cent renewable energy target Australia wide. The current RET target is equal to about 24 per cent of NEM capacity by 2030.
Australian Financial Review

nyrstar port pirie

Nyrstar’s lights are on. But for how much longer?

****

Nice work, Ben! The lad goes from journalistic strength to strength.

At present, the AFR is the only paper that appears even vaguely interested in what a debacle SA’s power supply and market is, thanks to its attempt to rely on a wholly weather dependent power source, with NO commercial value.

The producer of a good or service for commercial sale doesn’t tend to give it away, or pay ‘buyers’ to take it: but that’s precisely what wind power outfits are doing in SA (and elsewhere), as noted above.

We dealt with the manner in which the LRET allows wind power outfits to flood the market, and to literally pay the grid operator to take it, when the wind is blowing – here:

SA’s Wind Farm Fiasco: $Millions in Subsidies Thrown at GDF Suez to Reopen Mothballed Gas-Fired Power Plant

In short, the penalties under the LRET for failing to purchase RECs, forced retailers to enter Power Purchase Agreements with wind power outfits at fixed rates (up to $112 per MWh), which they collect from retailers irrespective of the spot or wholesale price.

Then, when the wind stops blowing, peaking power plant operators sit back, wait until the grid is on the very brink of collapse, and then ‘offer’ to supply the shortfall at rates of more than $2,000 per MWh and up to the market cap of $13,800 (instead of the average of $70):

South Australia’s Unbridled Wind Power Insanity: Wind Power Collapses see Spot Prices Rocket from $70 to $13,800 per MWh

Cutting out the cheapest base-load plant, when Port Augusta closes, will only increase the opportunities for rampant market rorting like that. And it’s businesses and households that are left with the burgeoning bill.

As to the ‘helpful’ suggestions for “an unfunded proposal by AGL to build grid-scale battery storage, and a smart grid proposal from Siemens of Germany to store surplus renewable energy in hydrogen fuel cells”, South Australia’s few remaining manufacturers and mineral processors, like Port Pirie’s Nyrstar will be dead and buried long before those pipe dreams ever turned to commercial reality.

And, even if thought bubbles like massive batteries and hydrogen production, storage and use were technically possible (neither has been achieved on any significant scale), the cost of the electricity eventually delivered to homes and businesses would be so astronomical as to be prohibitively expensive.

No, South Australia has dug itself into an energy hole and its gormless government has no hope of digging its way out. For South Australians, it’s an economic nightmare that will last for a generation, or more.

jay weatherill

Jay Weatherill delivers an endless nightmare for South Australians.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. estherfonc says:

    Hi,

    I just started a petition “SA PREMIER JAY WEATHERILL : Demand the resignation of the Energy Minister for HIGH POWER PRICES CAUSING SA’s JOBS CRISIS and also 15,000 household POWER DISCONNECTIONS, frequent POWER BLACKOUTS and the JULY 2016 POWER CRISIS” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

    Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support.

    You can read more and sign the petition here:

    https://www.change.org/p/sa-premier-jay-weatherill-demand-the-resignation-of-the-energy-minister-for-high-power-prices-causing-sa-s-jobs-crisis-and-also-15-000-household-power-disconnections-frequent-power-blackouts-and-the-july-2016-power-crisis?recruiter=135406845&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive

    Please share this petition with anyone you think may be interested in signing it.

    Thankyou for your time.

  2. Gorge Grace says:

    Just another nail in the coffin for the worker, Jay and his team are nothing but self centred idiots.

  3. Jackie Rovensky says:

    With the news coming from Tasmania about their desperate status in part due to the failing of the connection cable to Victoria, and the dropping off of their Hydro energy production its time the Federal Government took charge of this Essential Service turning the production of our energy around and began immediately to have each State become self sufficient in their needs WITH BASE LOAD ENERGY – New building, upgrading should begin within the year to ensure this country is NOT energy starved – to ensure this country CAN MEET THE NEEDS OF ITS PEOPLE, action is needed now and Oh Boy how many jobs will such an action produce, enough to cut the unemployment rate drastically and this will continue as industry returns to Australia and people can afford to pay their energy bills AND have money left over to spend on more than the necessities of life.
    This stupid follow the leader procession they’ve played by signing international agreements to reduce CO2 emissions NOW by using failed ‘renewable’ energy production methods has cost us dearly.
    If this nation continues along this downward slope of not being able to meet our energy needs we will become a nation utilising pre industrialised methods of production in a social structure reminiscent of serfdom.
    The Eastern Grid has failed to realise its claims to ensure energy is always available when it is needed across participating States. Each State is heading into mayhem and desperate times as they slavishly try to out do each other in energy produced utilising a system that cannot be base-load which is needed to meet the needs of the people, commerce and industry.
    The Federal Government must take the step to drop the RET, to turn around and start to look at things with a clear eye – not one dripping with sob stories and ideologies.
    Yes encourage people to use less, to look after their own needs where possible, but do not do that by cutting them off from this Essential Service.
    Those investment advisers who today push, drive and encourage the idea of investment in ‘Renewables’ will see there is more to be made in investing in industry’s that work and can prove their worthiness – that is if they are any good at their job.

  4. Jackie Rovensky says:

    And Koutstantonis still says our energy isn’t expensive and NSW is more costly!!!!!
    Weatherill whenever someone complains about the cost and its ramifications whines they are not offering solutions – I thought that was his job after all he was elected, by those who did not see beyond the sickly sweet smile and soft-cuddle me voice to ‘run’ this State – that is NOT run it into the ground. Unfortunately they voted wrongly and hopefully will not do so again.
    SA has gone into a downward spin since Rann and Weatherill took over, it was bad enough after Labor left it in massive debt with the Liberals having to come in and drag it back to the surface which caused angst by those who thought it would be possible without any pain.
    Now they are going to have to do it all over again and this time the pain will be more severe as there is nothing left to sell to clear the debt and get the State back up and running.
    The lack of judgement by this Government in allowing the States energy charges to get so out of hand and ensuring we will be energy poor for many years to come has ensured this State will be Australia’s ‘basket case’ for many years to come.
    The ‘Winds’ of change that is the changes caused by reliance on Wind Energy is an example of the total wilful disregard this Government has had for this State, they have allowed an industry to infiltrate every corner of Government and decision making processes and you have to wonder exactly why this happened – what prompted it – and why was it allowed to do so much damage – when you brush aside ideology or a need to ‘save the earth’ as being unlikely to have caused so many influential and well educated people to become so engrossed there is only one answer left – money.

  5. Energy Security 101: If you’ve got a coal-fired power station with its own coal mine, all necessary transmission cables, and a trained workforce, you must be in the grip of some collective madness to allow it to close.

    • Exactly – they have the coal, the railway line etc – why not upgrade to a new supercritical 700MW power station like Kogan Creek in Queensland and SA power problems would finish.

    • That’s the way these “Left Wing Loonies” operate. It’s not about doing but feeling. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stupid idea if it feels good.

  6. God help us says:

    Good to see South Australia’s opposition leader Steven Marshall come out of hibernation on tonight’s news suggesting energy prices are crippling small business. He thought the SA government should be doing more, he couldn’t quite bring himself to blame renewables as it might upset the greenies in his Norwood electorate. Might be time to go back in and roll the stone in front of your cave mate.

    Then of course SA’ s energy minister Tom Koutsantonis comes in with his right of reply saying it was the Liberals who sold off the electricity assets which has put SA down this path.

    The windies are on the nose here and know they can’t win the baseload argument, so they are starting to bleat on about battery storage. As STT says IF large scale batteries work, at what huge cost and how long before they can be installed? What industry will be left?

    The words of Rob Brokenshire a Member of state parliament for the Family First party here in SA come to mind. At a gathering of those opposed to wind farms I asked him how much research would the present Labor government have done on the roll out of wind farms, their effect on power prices and grid stability.
    He laughed and said “you would be very surprised how little.”

    The windies better prepare for the upcoming wind storm in SA and there will be no lame arse excuses or hiding this time boys. That is, for those of you who have the courage to face the music.

  7. Terry Conn says:

    This debacle that has unfolded in South Australia and elsewhere in the world reminds me of experiments done by psychology students years ago where rats were given a choice between eating sweet confectionary or nutritious food — they kept eating the sweet stuff until they died – their tastes were delusional so far as their survival was concerned, just like the idiots in power in South Australia. At this point the quicker SA suffers its impending economic death the quicker renewal can occur. Because, however, of the GST distribution rules it will be a lot slower death than it should be, the pain levels will be high right across the nation. Meanwhile there are ‘idiots’ in power in the other states and federally just ‘dying’ to join the ‘enlightened’ Mr. Weatherill and his band of merry boys and girls. This post by STT, as well as many others, is a beacon of light that helps us all to participate in fighting this ‘wind mill disease’.

  8. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Shock news.

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