Liberal Senator Chris Back: ‘No More Subsidies to Intermittent and Unreliable Wind Power – a Proven Failure’

Vestas turbine on fire

In the week just gone, the wind-cult assembled in Adelaide to hug model wind turbines and chant Kumbaya – in an apparent effort to ward off the gathering evil spirits that now beset their beloved deity.

Adelaide – the sleepy country town that passes as the capital of economic basket case South Australia – hosted the Clean Energy Council’s propaganda and organic vegan party pies extravaganza. Ironically, it’s also the political centre of a State that, due to its ludicrous attempt to rely upon sunshine and breezes, is now an international laughing stock.  Here’s an extract from the New York Times which, until recently, we are reliably informed had never published so much as a sentence about South Australia:

In Southern Australia, where wind supplies more than a quarter of the region’s power, the spiking prices of electricity when the wind wasn’t blowing full-bore pushed the state government to ask the power company Engie to switch back on a gas-fired plant that had been shut down.

Calling it “Southern Australia”, which gets pretty close to its title of South Australia, suggests New Yorkers might have a hard time pinpointing Adelaide on the map, but at least SA finally made the big time – for all the wrong reasons.

During the wind-cult love-in, Federal Labor front man, Mark Butler in a deluded rant, not only refused to accept that the wind-cult’s deity bore any responsibility for South Australia’s energy calamity, he went on the offensive (in every sense of that word); audaciously berating SA’s beleaguered business leaders for having the temerity to criticise wind power and the crippling power costs it reliably and predictably delivers.

Butler then whipped his fellow cultists into a ecstatic ‘talking-in-tongues’ frenzy, with his wild assertion that Labor will double down on its wind power push; and, thereby, ensure that SA is completely carpeted in whirling Danish dervishes.

Meanwhile, back in reality land, Western Australian Liberal Senator and STT Champion, Chris Back launched an offensive of his own.  Unlike Mark Butler’s foaming-at-the-mouth tirade, Senator Back was starting from a point based in a world of obvious fact (rather than fantasy) and, from there, proceeded down the path of good old-fashioned common sense. Backs’ timely attack was one centred fairly and squarely on the true cause of South Australia’s power pricing and supply disaster.

Call to end wind farms until power solution found
The Australian
Meredith Booth
25 July 2016

Liberal Party senator Chris Back says wind power is not a solution to our climate challenges.

South Australia’s power crisis was a “wake-up call” for other states on the impact on consumers of subsidised renewable energy, particularly wind power, a Liberal senator has warned.

Chris Back called for a moratorium on new wind farms, and no more subsidies for wind energy generators until the Productivity Commission conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the effect the industry was having on the National Electricity Market and retail electricity costs.

“There should be no further subsidies paid for an intermittent and unreliable power source that can be seen as a proven failure. There are solutions to our climate challenges but wind power is not one of them,” Senator Back said.

Wholesale electricity prices in South Australian have now “normalised” to double the rate of other states.

The state government applied pressure to accelerate upgrade works on the state’s Heywood Interconnector with Victoria to bring it back online two days earlier than forecast.

The connector, operated by private company ElectraNet, was offline when wholesale electricity prices spiked from an average of $100 per megawatt hour to almost $14,000/MWh on July 7, and triggered major businesses to threaten shutdowns.

It was brought back into operation on Saturday night, lifting its former capacity from 460MW to 500MW between the states.

The sapping of power by wind turbines during calm weather on July 7 at the height of the crisis was also blamed for the price surge in the state, which is 40 per cent reliant on wind and solar power generation since the closure of Alinta’s coal-fired power station in May.

The upgraded interconnector would increase its capacity to 650MW in both directions over the next few months, but leaves South Australian consumers reliant on wind and solar for 40 per cent of the energy mix, paying double the wholesale electricity price paid in eastern states.

State Treasurer and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said yesterday his government had applied pressure to accelerate the interconnector’s upgrade and prices had now normalised.

Consumers could “take advantage of renewable resources and export them to the rest of the country” now that the upgrade has been completed.

The upgrade came as Australian Energy Market Operator chairman Tony Marxsen announced the sudden death on Saturday of founding chief executive Matt Zema.

Mr Zema, 56, was a 30-year electricity industry veteran who had been the “heart and soul” of AEMO for eight years.

Data from the operator yesterday showed South Australia’s average spot wholesale price had dropped to $75.37/MWh on Saturday, from $200/MWh on Friday.

But prices were still well above those paid in NSW, Victoria and Queensland at between $33 and $57/MWh on Saturday.
The Australian

SA 7.7.16

Labor’s witless Energy Minister, Tom Koutsantonis claims that he is going to “export” SA’s renewable electricity bounty.  From examples like 7 July (see above), Tom and other members of the deluded wind-cult will need to pray a whole lot harder to the Wind Gods, if SA is to export anything other than South Australian politicians – via their well-beaten path to Canberra – begging for endless Federal government bail-outs for the worst managed economy in the Nation.

Chris Back’s call to stop subsidising an utterly meaningless power source is long overdue.  Wind power is meaningless as a power source because it can only ever be delivered at crazy, random intervals (if at all – see above); and, for that reason, cannot and will never reduce CO2 emissions in the electricity sector.

Moreover, because it cannot be delivered on demand it has absolutely no commercial value: in SA, when the wind is blowing, wind power generators routinely pay the grid manager to take their skittish product, while cashing in on their Power Purchase Agreements which guarantee them payments of around $110 per MWh (see our post here).

Chris Back’s attack on subsidised, intermittent and wholly unreliable wind power was echoed by the Editor of The Australian.

Protect our energy advantage
The Australian
25 July 2016

The lesson of the recent power crisis in South Australia, where wholesale electricity prices spiked from an average of $100 per megawatt hour to almost $14,000 per MWh — prompting major businesses to threaten shutdowns — is that renewables, however promising, are not yet sufficiently advanced to guarantee a reliable, cost-effective supply to industries and households. Given current technology, and the lack of political will to pursue nuclear energy as a long-term option, Australia’s economy will continue to depend on our abundant, high-quality coal supply for decades if it is to retain its comparative advantage in energy.

The reality, as Australian Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren writes today, is that increasing intermittent renewables on a large scale reduces emissions but ultimately increases prices and reliability risks. This is the problem in South Australia, where more than 40 per cent of power generation comes from wind and solar — an extraordinarily high percentage compared with most major grids around the world. Despite most governments encouraging renewable energy, new coal-fired power plants continue to be built, especially in Asia.

The need to balance the goals of providing a cheap, reliable power supply with cutting greenhouse emissions in a changing energy world will be a central challenge for Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg in his new, combined portfolio. One decision facing him will be whether to give federal approval for the Dundonnell wind farm in southwest Victoria, which would have as many as 104 turbines. It has already been approved by Premier Daniel Andrews’s government, which wants to step up the state’s usage of renewables.

But as South Australian senator Chris Back says, the power crisis in his state has added to the economic case to withhold taxpayers’ subsidies to wind farms until the Productivity Commission completes a cost-benefit analysis of the industry’s impact on the National Electricity Market and power prices. South Australia’s predicament should be a wake-up call to the nation.
The Australian

The Australian has Chris Back down as a Senator from South Australia.  He is, rather, a Liberal Senator from Western Australia.  With barely a handful of these things in his state (and with most of those aged and grinding to a halt), an abundance of gas reserves and plenty of base-load generating capacity, Chris Back, no doubt, thanks his lucky stars every single day that he hails from the Golden West.

Here is the full press release of what Chris Back had to say.

Moratorium on new Wind Turbines – Current debacle was inevitable. 

Senator Chris Back has repeated his call for a moratorium on new wind farms being constructed until the Productivity Commission completes a cost-benefit analysis of the effect the industry is having on the National Electricity Market (NEM) and retail electricity prices.

Following the current energy crisis in South Australia and Tasmania resulting in the highest energy prices on record paid by consumers, businesses, schools and hospitals, Senator Back again called for the Coalition Government to adopt the Senate Inquiry recommendation that, the Australian Government direct the Productivity Commission to conduct research into the impact of wind power electricity generation on retail electricity prices. The Government is yet to respond to the recommendations of that Inquiry.

Electricity prices in South Australia this week hit $14,000 per MWh as wind generated power sources failed to meet demand. This has lead to companies such as BHP Billiton and Arrium Steel threatening to review their operations. The price for power in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria was $32/MWh in the same period.

Senator Back said the current lack of performance measurement is not acceptable – it would not be tolerated in any other industry let alone one reliant on mandated subsidies. Failure to properly monitor the true impact of an industry that comes at a high cost to the nation’s economy and electricity consumers in particular is now being realised.

Senator Back added that the Renewable Energy Target (RET) which is imposed on conventional energy suppliers acts as a tax on energy to fund a subsidy to selected renewable energy generators.

“This is the big issue that the Coalition Government is now confronting– after 13 years of operation it has become clear that the objectives of the Act have not been reflected in the outcomes. While the investment in renewable energy has increased, from a carbon abatement perspective, the legislation has been all but totally ineffective in its objective of substantially reducing CO2 emissions in the electricity sector.”

Claims that the long-term effects of wind power will reduce retail power prices are fundamentally flawed. Furthermore, energy generated by wind farms does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector by the amounts claimed.  In fact, the evidence based on available data shows that adding intermittent wind power into a conventional grid actually increases CO2 emissions; defeating the justification for the colossal cost of the scheme.

Grid managers are required to keep fossil fuel generating plants constantly running in the background to maintain balance within the grid in order to account for dramatic fluctuations in wind power output which occur on a minute by minute basis while base-load generators are required to maintain spinning and synchronised reserve for occasions when wind power output collapses as it does on a routine but unpredictable basis.  The requirement to maintain spinning reserve means that base-load generators are burning coal and gas at a constant rate even though no power is being dispatched to the grid.

The RET scheme was never intended to act as an unchecked, single industry subsidy. “With the disastrous example set by South Australia, comes a growing public awareness of the massive cost of subsidy entitlements under the large scale RET scheme, the permanent disruption to once functional power markets and the associated grid instability.

What we have witnessed is load shedding and blackouts that stem from reliance on wind power. It will become harder over time to find supporters for subsidised wind power with the forced-closure of energy dependant businesses, thousands of households unable to afford power and routine supply interruptions when the wind stops blowing.”

“The current situation in South Australia provides a wake-up call. There should be no further subsidies paid for an intermittent and unreliable power source that can be seen as a proven failure.  There are solutions to our climate challenges but wind power is not one of them,” Senator Back said.

Senator Chris Back 
21 July 2016

Chris Back

Chris Back: intermittent, unreliable wind power solves nothing.

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Thank-you Senator Back for your clear explanations, your call for a moratorium and also pointing out that the Government still has not responded to the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry into Wind Farms. Many people complaining about their power bills must understand and object to the forced direct and indirect costs through the increasing and planned reliance on wind energy to meet the RET. The Energy Council and our Government are failing to recognise or address the many problems created by the glut of renewables into the grid. For Victoria or any of the Northern States to willfully follow in the footsteps of SA to create the same ongoing ugly mess should be raising strong alarms. I sincerely hope Senator Back is supported in his call.

    There is no energy solution in commissioning more costly turbines, inter-connectors or waiting on a bank of batteries as they don’t work. I personally don’t want to subsidize wind farms in any way, shape or form and agree to a moratorium. The blackouts, the hoarding of REC’s and the never-ending subsidies should tell the proverbial emperor/s it’s time to put some clothes back on, the people and businessmen are fed up.

  2. New Molten Salt Reactor designs by @TerrestrialMSR, @Transatomic @NuScale_Power (etc.) will burn highly radiotoxic waste from high pressure Light Water Reactors until there’s none of it left on planet Earth. MSRs turn spent LWR fuel rods (half-life 300,000 years) into residue with a half-life of 30 years: I.e. landfill that returns to background level radiotoxicity in 300 years. The decay rate of Thorium fuel is even faster.
    MSRs FAIL SAFE – without human intervention, without electricity, without water pumps, they just quietly burn out like a campfire if anything does go badly wrong.
    MSRs operate at normal atmospheric pressure so they never present even the remotest risk of explosion.
    AND in addition to garbage disposal, MSRs generate enormous baseload power.
    It’s a “No Brainer” folks. Put one or more MSR modules in every town and get rid of the National Grid – sell the copper, sell the steel, give the easements back to Mother Nature.
    Most importantly, as the end of the current interglacial approaches, humanity will have all the energy we require to adapt to life on a far colder planet when wind turbines are buried in ice & snow.
    @keirdouglas – NuclearEnergyNow

  3. estherfonc says:


    I just signed the 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 ’16 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:

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


  4. Analitik says:

    WA is heading down the solar PV route to grid failure. Wind is only a minor “contributor” over there.

  5. It’s a pity our state paper, the West Australian won’t or doesn’t pick up on this issue & at least print something from Senator Back as an opinion piece! Thank you Senator for speaking out…..we can only hope that eventually ALL of Australia wakes up to this rort!

  6. Some one is going to be killed by “these things” if they are not taken down. Take them down.

  7. Sen. Back, thanks for speaking up!

  8. Senator Chris Back deserves a great deal of credit for speaking out so forcefully!

    “It will become harder over time to find supporters for subsidised wind power with the forced-closure of energy dependant businesses….”
    One can only hope that in Ontario it will also be harder over time to find supporters for subsidized wind power!
    The wait is excruciating!

    • Unfortunately it is far too late for Ontario and its Liberal government which always finds ways to get more taxpayer money to subsidize windmill providers and “green energy” friends; BTW, Ontario has some of the most brain-dead sheeples on the planet who will continue to vote for the Liberal Marxist oligarchy which has led the province into bankruptcy.

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