When Will Josh Frydenberg Stop Lying About the Federal Government’s $40bn RET?

malcolm-turnbull-press-club

Turnbull seems happy to play Pinocchio, too…

***

Blame shifting and buck-passing have become the national political sport. Lying and obfuscation are, of course, essential prerequisites for those moving up the political ladder. However, the brazenness with which Australia’s Energy and Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg engages in political ‘craft’ is breathtaking.

In a week where South Australia saw 90,000 homes chopped from the grid – during a routine, total collapse in wind power output – Frydenberg and PM, Malcolm Turnbull yelled themselves hoarse in the House, berating SA’s hapless Labor government for its wind power obsession, a fair point.

However, Frydenberg continually pedals the lie that it is the SA Labor government’s renewable energy target that’s put South Australia on the map as an international laughing stock.

As Chris Kenny points out in this brilliant piece that appeared in the Weekend Australian, Frydenberg and Turnbull “need to deal with the reality that the current chaos is occurring under a RET to which they subscribe.”

Indeed they do. In the absence of the Federal government’s Renewable Energy Target not one single wind turbine would have been erected in South Australia (or anywhere else for that matter).

The only thing that South Australia did differently than the other states is that it moved early and fast, gutting its planning rules to allow wind power outfits to ride roughshod over the rights of individuals and communities and spear hundreds of these things into the backyards of people now driven nuts by incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infra-sound.

Chris Kenny gives such colour, depth and detail on how South Australia has become notorious (if not infamous) as ‘Australia’s wind power capital’, that we’d be surprised if he wasn’t an avid STT follower.

South Australia’s quixotic approach to energy
The Australian
Chris Kenny
11 February 2017

Power eludes the people: South Australia has been sacrificed on the altar of climate virtue

The free-settler state is determined to lead the nation, refusing to be enslaved by the carbon economy that dominates the former convict colonies.

“In 2015 the state government and Adelaide City Council committed to a joint aspiration,” says a South Australian government website, “for Adelaide to become the world’s first carbon neutral city.” They sure found a unique way to achieve it.

On September 28 last year during SA’s first statewide blackout, it disappeared from the view of passing spacecraft, redolent of the famous images showing North Korea wallowing in the darkness of its socialist torpor.

On that night the only emissions in SA came from the rear ends of cows and the expletive-laden curses of its citizens. The city designed by Colonel William Light was in the dark and carbon neutral, very much like it was before he arrived in 1836. Except this time people were stuck in traffic snarls without signals; and in lifts.

None of this has worked out quite the way Labor Premier Jay Weatherill intended — although it is exactly how many of us predicted. Weatherill expended a fistful of taxpayers’ dollars and a truckload of carbon emissions taking a team to the Paris climate talks in 2015; he even took a video crew because there is not much point saving the planet unless someone records it.

“We are running a big international experiment right now,” Weatherill told the true believers in the City of Light, forgetting to tell his constituents back in Adelaide that he was using them as laboratory rats who could be plunged into darkness.

From websites for RenewablesSA and Carbon Neutral Adelaide to a range of videos, pamphlets and programs, the proselytising from the state’s Labor Party is extraordinary.

“2015 was an exciting year for our state on the topic of addressing global warming,” preaches Weatherill’s website (clueless about how exciting 2016 and 2017 would turn out to be).

The conceit is beyond parody. This is a state with a declining industrial base and the highest levels of unemployment in the nation.

It has clean air, plenty of space and, in the main, a semi-arid climate. This year its grain farmers experienced record crops thanks to good seasonal rains and perhaps, some farmers dare to mention, higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Yet Weatherill and his team seem convinced their state can be the butterfly that flaps its wings and saves the planet. The state accounts for about 0.15 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

If we shut down the state and evacuated it, the annual emissions saved would be eclipsed by China’s emissions growth within a few weeks. Indeed we could desert the state forever, leaving it to become a future Angkor Wat, and it would make not the slightest difference to global climate trends.

Yet in order to claim some kind of climate virtue, justify the odd trip to Paris and delude themselves about leading the world, SA’s policymakers have sacrificed their state’s cost of living, undermined its struggling manufacturing base and enfeebled its energy security.

South Australians have the most expensive electricity in the nation by an average of about 40 per cent, yet the power can go missing when they most need it — when especially hot or cold weather triggers high demand.

If you were doing this to actually save the planet you might grin and bear it. When you are doing it just to make an ass of yourselves it is a political crime.

To comprehend the absurdity of all this you have to trace Labor’s actions since taking power in 2002. Electricity was already a central issue because the Olsen Liberal government (for which I worked in its final two years) had privatised the system. Labor came to power promising to build an interconnector to NSW to underpin supply and boost competition. Fifteen years later it has done no such thing; rather, it is talking about the idea once again.

In the interim, under Mike Rann and then Weatherill, SA plunged headlong down the path of renewables, first achieving a 33 per cent target and then doubling down by setting a 50 per cent target (it is well on track with the renewable share more than 40 per cent already).

Mainly supplied by wind farms, the renewable investment is made under the federal government’s renewable energy target. This means the infrastructure is subsidised by other electricity suppliers, guaranteeing returns. The wind generators can often pump power into the system for extremely low prices — even for free — when the wind is blowing.

This undercut the competitiveness — as intended — of carbon-based generation. Unable to turn a profit in the new environment, gas-fired generators have chosen to close or remain idle. The state’s two main baseload generators were built in the 1960s and 80s at Port Augusta and fuelled by low-grade coal mined at Leigh Creek.

The older generator was mothballed in 2012 and the operator, Alinta, decommissioned the other last year. Before doing so, Alinta wrote to the Weatherill government seeking government support to reinvest and extend its operations in order to provide “long-term certainty” and additional retail competition.

This was rejected. On the one had this is understandable — imagine the craziness of an electricity system that subsidises renewables in order to drive out carbon-based generation but then subsidises the carbon-based plants to remain operational for reliable back-up.

But that shows the dilemma politicians have created. No doubt Weatherill, if he had his chance over, would have tried to keep the coal generators going. Certainly most of his constituents might think so.

The electricity market is extremely complex and volatile. Hence this week South Australia began load shedding when demand was high even though one major gas generator at Pelican Point was not being pressed into service.

There will be claims of profit gouging from some but alternatively, consider if the operator, French giant Engie, fires up its plant and then the wind blows. It can be stuck with gas costs but no profit.

The core of the problem is straightforward. The RET system encourages wind investment but only undermines the business model of the baseload power needed for when the wind doesn’t blow. It is the cost and complication of the renewable energy that is superfluous, not the other way around — unless you kid yourself that lower emissions in SA can change the global climate. This is an exercise in destructive futility — tilting at windmills.

The serious complication for Malcolm Turnbull is that while Weatherill’s climate crusade is all his own doing and the political consequences for him ought to be dire, it has all occurred under a federal RET that has had bipartisan support.

It is classic case of our muddled federation where we have different levels of government acting at cross-purposes. Setting a national RET at less than 25 per cent doesn’t stop self-harming states using it to achieve their own unilateral targets of 50 per cent (Queensland is aiming for 50 per cent, Victoria 40 per cent and Western Australian Labor has been flirting with 50 per cent).

The states are responsible for their own foolhardiness. And the Turnbull government’s RET ambitions seem eminently responsible compared to Bill Shorten’s shapeless and uncosted plan to more than double the RET to 50 per cent by 2030.

Yet Turnbull and his Environment and Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg, need to deal with the reality that the current chaos is occurring under a RET to which they subscribe.

Remedial action is urgently needed to turn their political ascendancy on energy policy into a practical prescription.
The Australian

While Frydenberg and Turnbull fudge, flub and fluff, WA Liberal MP Andrew Hastie cut straight to the chase in this cracking interview on SkyNews, when he called for the Coalition to mount a solid campaign against the RET:

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Crispin Trist says:

    In a recent visit to Mount Gambier, I was concerned to see ‘blackout’ kits for sale at a well known chain store. Yes $20 will buy you a plastic storage box filled with water sprays, batteries, torches, matches, candles etc.

    Having only just crossed from Victoria into South Australia for the day to visit friends, who have been forced out of their home due to the ‘pinwheel junkyard’ near Millicent, the availability of the blackout kits certainly brought it home to me just how bad things have gotten in South Australia.

    Then I had a thought. How interesting that these very same States, SA, Victoria and Queensland, are trying to stuff up the National electricity grid with their renewable energy targets. We’ve been here before you see. Yes… Track gauge!!!

    Yes, instead of pushing for a National Standard gauge railway network, these very States elected to use both broad gauge and narrow gauge. A decision that we are still trying to fix after all these years.

    Get your house in order Australia. This is one country after all. Time you started behaving like one. This could threaten our National Security. Time to get tough LNP. Reel the States in and take some control.

    Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.

  2. Jackie Rovensky says:

    Who is in charge!
    We have a mishmash of Regulations concerning Wind Turbine installation. Each State Government has set its own conditions, irrespective of the danger they pose to the environment and peoples health, let alone whether they will provide the energy they claim to. The Federal Government sets a National Target and provides subsidies. States provide incentives such as in SA where planning regulations were specifically changed to favour the industry when the then Premier had a hissy fit in Parliament because the ERD court did its job.
    The Federal Government has the EPBC which is meant to ensure the safety of our endangered specie but forget to include saving it does not mean weak harm mitigation schemes.
    The people are meant to be protected from harm by the existence of their EPA’s but these fail to investigate dangers posed by these turbines to local residents – because the industry has been protected against having to include infrasound in their noise emissions. The EPA’s also fail by not pushing Governments to include these and other things which may cause harm to humans, or environmental damage concerns.
    This all means the industry is making the rules the industry has taken charge and the industry is the only thing that has a good outcome from installation of these toxic, useless things.
    It’s time the Federal Government took control and set a standard everyone has to meet – they have meant to have been doing this for some years now, and if companies fail to meet their obligations whether various noise emissions or not meeting their installed capacity output at least 90% of the time. If they fail any of the requirements they should be shutdown and remove. Finally the RET has to be removed from wind turbines installations at the very least, and completely if they really mean to ensure we are not going to be paying for ever the cost of renewable energy installations.

  3. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    The supposed “CO2 savings” that Australia’s $40 BILLION RET, to subsidise – economy, environmental and life-wrecking windmills, will save by 2030 or even 2100, will be emitted in a single week by China alone.

    Japan has just committed to 45 new coal plans as well.

    Let that all sink in.

    Is “save the planet” virtue-signalling really worth all this pain for so little or no gain?

  4. Son of a Goat says:

    Malcolm Turnbull prides himself on being an “innovative” leader as we his constituents hope he would aspire to. With any innovation comes the initial thought bubble.

    With the ongoing energy debate in Australia that is rapidly turning into a crisis, the prime minister’s current thought bubble is “pumped hydro.” The South Australian Labor govt under Mike Rann also had a thought bubble in the early 2000’s surrounding wind farms.

    After the initial idea there should be a process of consultation, logic and basically doing ones homework on that ideas viability of being successful. The Federal back benchers should be hitting Turnbull over the head with a wet fish if he thinks pumped hydro would work in Australia.

    Last time I looked at a geographical map of Australia we weren’t abundant in mountainous regions and spare water. Both sides of the political equation whether it be coal or the greens would be up in arms against it.
    For all the initial hype about Turnbull, he surprises me, he seems unable to grasp some basic concepts surrounding the variability and cost of renewables. One has to do one’s homework.

    The initial proponents of the RET did their homework in disguising it as hidden tax, so that they could rort the system. As STT would say “always back self interest, they are the only ones trying.”

    As for Frydenberg’s pandering to both sides of the energy debate there can be no better example of a likely outcome than the liberal member for Goyder here in SA. He sat on the fence regarding Senvion’s 200 turbine Ceres project, saying openly he respected all opinions on the project at public meetings.

    He has now been smashed from either side of the fence, lost his spot in the shadow cabinet and now may be challenged at preselection.

    Fortune does favour the brave.

    • Son of a Goat says:

      Coincidentally the local State member for Goyder fell on his sword today and will retire at next years state election.

      The carnage from this irresponsible uptake into renewables in SA is palpable.

      Now we hear the Australian standards commission is looking into the placement of lithium batteries in homes, concerned that they are a fire hazard.
      Remind anyone of the roof insulation debacle?

  5. Terry Conn says:

    Today, both Turnbull and Frydenberg said that wind turbines played no part in some of South Australia’s major recent blackouts and that ‘renewables’ remain an important and crucial part of the energy mix, no intention whatsoever of doing anything about the RET – clearly they are stark raving mad or have been bought off or both. Electricity users are fast learning about the reality of this wind farm scam and ‘the mob’ can’t be far off a critical mass – the political life of these clowns is coming to a sticky end.

    • Watch One Nation tackle Turnbull from the right. WA will be a blood bath, with One Nation slaughtering the Nationals and taking Liberal and Labor scalps too. QLD will go the same way. Then the next Federal election will follow, with One Nation likely to hold the balance of power in the Senate. And their approach to energy policy will be central to One Nation’s appeal. Trump set the benchmark. People have had a gutful of Liberals pandering to their natural enemies, pitching up policies that are demanded by people who will never vote for them. Meanwhile, Pauline and Cory will drag the disaffected rump from both major parties and upend the cosy me too politics of the day.

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