‘Peak Lunacy’: Australia’s Unfolding Energy Fiasco Cripples SA – Victoria to Follow

thelma and louise cliff

So far, so good …


In Ridley Scott’s 1991 feminist version of the classic American road film, Thelma and Louise, the protagonists hit the road in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible, hoping to escape the dropkick men in their dreary lives.

Thelma, in resisting the unwanted advances of a would-be rapist, pumps her assailant full of lead and the pair of flawed heroines head off on a booze-filled Odyssey to the Wild West in an effort to evade police. The heart-racing denouement has Thelma and Louise (momentarily) thundering across the Grand Canyon, as they avoid capture by a small army of heavily armed and trigger happy police.

The Thunderbird almost appears to hover in space and, for a while at least, Thelma and Louise appear oblivious to their inevitable fate.

And so it is with Australia’s obsession with heavily subsidised wind power. Australia’s economic competitiveness is fundamentally based on reliable, secure and affordable electricity. Mining, mineral processing, manufacturing, intensive agriculture and industry all depend upon cheap power; and so do millions of jobs that these productive businesses generate.

Like Thelma and Louise, State Labor governments in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland (all obsessed with ludicrous and unachievable ‘aspirational’ 50% renewable targets) and the Federal Coalition government (desperate to deflect attention from the fact that it’s the $billions paid in REC subsidies under the Federal Large-Scale RET that have already destroyed South Australia’s once reliable and affordable power supply and that threatens to do precisely the same in Victoria and Queensland) are all thundering towards a precipitous and calamitous fate.

Unlike Thelma and Louise, however, this looming calamity is all self-inflicted and, therefore, perfectly avoidable. As Albert Einstein reckoned “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” There is nothing driving Australia towards social and economic disaster, except brainless ideology, at the centre of which is the bizarre belief that economies can run on sunshine breezes. As Western Australian Liberal Senator, Chris Back aptly put it:

“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.”

Another that isn’t prepared to launch their Thunderbird over a cliff is Chris Kenny. Chris Kenny, as a South Australian, is acutely aware of what placing lunatics in charge of energy policy has done to his State. From this cracking little piece it’s evident that Chris is eager for the lunacy to end now.

Peak lunacy reached in power fiasco
Sunday Mail
Chris Kenny
5 November 2016

As Hazelwood power station shuts, South Australian consumers in a world of hurt as prices climb amid fears of further blackouts

IT’S AN old-fashioned State of Origin clash and Victoria, typically, has just surged into the lead.

But, believe me, this is not a game you want to win; this is the State of Origin for stupidity.

Even after watching what South Australia did to itself – pushing for renewable energy, increasing electricity prices, shutting down coal-fired power stations, reducing energy security, and triggering a statewide blackout – the Big V is rushing headlong down the same path.

Confirmation the Hazelwood coal-fired power station will close early next year guarantees power prices will increase by at least 8 per cent in Victoria next year.

Given SA imports huge amounts of power from that state, the increases will flow across the border.

The La Trobe Valley plant has 1600 megawatts of baseload capacity and has supplied up to 25 per cent of Victoria’s power.

Victoria has been an exporter of electricity, sending power to SA, Tasmania and even NSW at times but now will need to import power at peak times – mainly coal-fired electricity from NSW.

Instead of cheap reliable coal-fired power, Victoria is following SA with increased reliance on subsidised, unreliable wind and solar energy. Good luck.

Just like SA, Victoria has seen car manufacturers and other companies close, with jobs shed in the steel and aluminium sectors. Power prices have been a major factor.

More job losses will come – this is deliberate policy leading to inevitable deindustrialisation.

It is bad news for SA because, as industry shrinks across the border, local suppliers will be hit.

And, as Victoria’s electricity becomes more expensive and less reliable, it will increase SA’s exposure, given the state’s dangerous reliance on the Victoria’s Heywood interconnector – as everyone discovered on September 28.

Hazelwood Power Station worker Bruce McLure will be among hundreds to lose his job when it closes. Picture: Rob Leeson

SA’s biggest user of electricity is the Olympic Dam mine – one of the world’s largest uranium and copper operations.

BHP-Billiton shelved its huge open-cut expansion a few years ago but now plans to massively expand its underground mining, more than doubling copper output from 200,000 tonnes a year to 500,000 tonnes over the next decade.

This is vital for a struggling state economy – Olympic Dam has helped to keep SA above water since the State Bank disaster.

Yet the mismanagement of the power situation could kill the plans, as the head of BHP-Billiton’s Australian operations, Mike Henry, told me on television last week.

Olympic Dam refines copper on site, requiring vast amounts of “stable, affordable energy” and the company is deeply worried about a repeat of September’s blackout (that shut it down for two weeks) and ongoing price spikes.

“Left unresolved, that sort of thing will start to put at risk some of the investments we have planned for Olympic Dam,” Henry said.

That is a stark warning. It should create shockwaves in SA and have the Weatherill government urgently looking at ways to increase baseload power.

Instead, the situation is getting worse because of what the Victorians are doing.

It is difficult to overstate the madness that is afoot – we must be approaching peak lunacy.

In the name of climate change policies, the two states most reliant on manufacturing have deliberately chosen policies to increase power prices and make energy less reliable; and then have mourned the loss of manufacturing jobs.

And to assuage their deep concerns about climate change both states have also spent billions of dollars building desalination plants that are mothballed.

Labor politicians in both states and federally are now publicly expressing concern about workers who have lost their jobs in coal-fired power stations when the policies they have implemented are deliberately designed to shut down these very generators.

Remember, every time these politicians mourn a job loss in the energy or manufacturing sectors, this is exactly what those same politicians have tried to achieve through their climate policies.

Renewable energy targets and other prices on carbon are about driving out so-called “dirty” industries and replacing them with “green” and “clean” jobs – you’ve heard the politicians say that.

They just don’t seem to trumpet these aims so loudly when real people are actually laid off.

And, of course, the real idiocy of all this is that it is doing precisely nothing for the environment.

While we deliberately make ourselves less competitive, impose higher prices on ourselves and toss our compatriots out of work, global emissions continue to rise.

In China and India, they are building more coal-fired power stations that will burn coal mined in NSW and Queensland.

But in Victoria and SA the unemployed can huddle together in the darkness, perhaps using a desalination plant as a windbreak, and try to convince themselves they are saving the planet.

The State of Origin for stupidity.
Sunday Mail


Jay Weatherill: State of Origin ‘Winner’…

About stopthesethings

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


  1. I predict that after about half of Hazelwood’s generators are taken offline, Jay Weatherill will be on the phone to Daniel Andrews, pleading for the whole plant to be brought back online. That is unless the wind is howling in SA during the whole shutdown period in which case South Australia will black out as soon as the wind calms down.

  2. Jackie Rovensky says:

    Another comment. The problem with arguments put up by the industry and its ‘hangers on’ is that they are mixing the size of a project with its ability to provide our energy needs.
    We all know that wind energy production is erratic, what seems to confuse some is that just because some projects are bigger and are now having bigger blades installed means they can overcome the lack of wind, but bigger does not mean they can meet their capacity factor any better than a small project. Or that wind can materialise when ever it is needed.
    The wind blows to its own tune irrespective of the needs of the wind industry, and it is not possible to manipulate the wind to blow harder or longer to help projects meet their capacity whether needed or not.
    The largest project in Australia MacArthur in Victoria has a capacity of 420MW, but just how often does it even come close to meeting that capacity and when it does is it when it is needed – can AGL its owner tweak a couple of keys on a computer and make it perform any better whenever more energy is needed?
    In SA Clements Gap project just a little north of the 3 Snowtown sites is only 57MW capacity but it performs on the same scale as the larger Snowtown ones which have a combined capacity of 373MW, actually at times Clements Gap may perform better simply because the wind is blowing better where it is installed, can the Snowtown ones be tweaked to perform better when the wind isn’t blowing?
    Base-load energy production can be manipulated to produce more or less when needed.
    Those who constantly push to have people believe they can manipulate the Wind and therefore nature are in danger of being blown away – and the sooner the better.

  3. Jackie Rovensky says:

    When we here in SA consider the energy randomly produced by the large numbers of Wind Turbines, we forget that some of that energy is not for use by all industries or the people but some is ‘syphoned off’ by AGL to keep the Desal plant operating even when its not needed.
    So the amount of electricity available to South Australian businesses and the people needs to be reduced, thus making our problems even worse.
    When the Labor Government decided to build the Desal plant they determined that only renewable energy would operate it – alas that was when we had coal-fired and gas back-up available on demand.
    Also we should not forget that the new Hornsdale project is contracted to provide energy to the ACT. Yes its produced here but the contracted amount has to first be set aside for use by the ACT, not even Victoria can hold on to it as it passes through their State – mind they and NSW also have projects being installed where the ACT has contracted to receive the energy produced – all at knock-down prices.
    Makes you wonder just how they managed to separate it to ensure the ACT gets what it has contracted for?
    Its a massive mismanagement of an Essential Service with too many people and Governments with their heads in the clouds. Maybe we need to consider seriously about cutting back on the roles State and Territories play in some of areas of National need.
    It would make it much easier for the people to hold one Government to account rather than several. However, could a change like that be undertaken within the system we have where so many of those making the decisions rely so heavily on games played in corridors and behind closed doors to succor and gain favour rather than on good quality research and clear consideration.

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