Liberal MPs Demand End to RET: Crippling Power Costs Leaves Thousands of Australian Families Totally Powerless

Paying the power bill or feeding little Johnny isn’t really about choice.

 

What happens next in Australian politics will determine the proportion of the next generation that grows up in households knowing the benefits of having electricity, as against those children who will enter life and grow up in homes deprived of what is properly considered a necessary component of a decent, civil society.

Right now in Australia, there are tens of thousands of families struggling to pay their power bills and an equal number who have already lost that battle, now living without the benefit of having any electricity at all.

That the story below is written about a country once renowned for its abundant mineral and energy resources is not just appalling, because it is the product of deliberate and considered government policy, it is criminal.

Energy bill pain: surge in cut-offs
The Australian
Joe Kelly and Mark Schliebs
8 July 2017

Australia is entering the “realm of third world countries” with residential power disconnections rising by as much as 140 per cent in six years and the average household paying more than double what it did a decade ago to keep the lights on.

Australian Energy Regulator figures reveal almost 60,000 households are on electricity hardship payments and another 151,862 customers are on electricity payment plans.

Escalating consumers’ pain, electricity prices increased up to 20 per cent last weekend and Victoria yesterday introduced emissions restrictions that would prevent even the cleanest coalfired power.

Coalition MPs yesterday argued it was imperative for Malcolm Turnbull to turn energy policy into a political negative for Labor at the next election, and drive down prices.

Mr Turnbull is under pressure to deliver an energy policy that will satisfy the joint partyroom amid rising concerns that an electricity market reform blueprint delivered by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel will fail to deliver on its promise of lower prices.

Government MPs told The Weekend Australian that state and federal renewable energy targets and gas moratoriums were “overly ambitious”, and they expressed support for Tony Abbott’s alternative plan to freeze the RET, pause subsidies for renewables and explore new coalfired power generation.

South Australian crossbench senator Nick Xenophon, who controls three upper house seats, yesterday warned that rising disconnection rates showed the nation was at a “crisis point”. He foreshadowed the prospect of even greater government subsidies so people could keep the lights and heating on.

“We’re getting to the realm of third world countries where an increasing number of people can’t afford power,” Senator Xenophon said.

“How can we be one of the most energy-abundant nations on Earth when more and more people are being disconnected.”

Analysis by The Weekend Australian shows that disconnection rates in Victoria rose 140 per cent between 2009-10 and 2015-16, (from 13,486 to 32,360) while in South Australia disconnections rose 122 per cent (from 4478 to 10,546) over the same period. NSW customers suffered a 90 per cent rise in disconnections (from 15,835 to 30,065), Queensland saw an increase of 21 per cent (from 17,913 to 21,667), while the ACT and Tasmania experienced moderate reductions in disconnection rates.

Victorians banking on high efficiency, low-emissions coal technology to boost the state’s ailing energy supply and to lower soaring power prices have had their hopes dashed with the release of the government’s “Statement on brown coal”.

The government opened the door for investment in alternate uses of brown coal, but effectively stamped out opportunities to use it as new power source by setting an emissions cap almost 50 per cent lower than what the cleanest plants can deliver.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg sheeted home responsibility for the rise in disconnection rates to Labor’s carbon tax, which went into force in July 2012, and was repealed in July 2014.

Mr Frydenberg said the government was taking “immediate action to put downward pressure on power prices” and secure reliable energy for households.

“Recently we announced a number of specific measures to deliver an affordable and reliable energy system,” he said. “The announcement included tough new regulations in the gas sector to give Australian customers priority access to gas supply before it is exported.

“We have also moved to strengthen the Australian Energy Regulator by providing it with an additional $67.4 million to stop energy network companies gaming the system and to restore the primacy of the regulator as the principal decision maker.”

The regulator figures show a spike in disconnections after the introduction of the carbon tax, with NSW experiencing a 38 per cent increase between 2011-12 and 2014-15 — peaking at 32,930 disconnections in 2013-14. Victoria’s disconnections rose 45 per cent over the same period and peaked at 34,496 in 2013-14 while Queensland’s rose by 25 per cent and peaked at 29,692 in 2014-15.

Regulator chairwoman Paula Conboy sounded a note of caution, warning it was “hard to draw a clear causal link” between changes in electricity prices but said that when prices rose more quickly than incomes it added pressure to budgets. “Retailers are required to provide assistance to customers who are having trouble paying their energy bill. If you are struggling to pay your bill, contact your energy retailer early and ask for help, to avoid being disconnected,” Ms Conboy said.

Energy Consumers Australia chief executive Rosemary Sinclair said the July 1 double-digit price rises meant it was “more important than ever” for electricity retailers to work with customers to “reduce the risk of bill shock and (to) keep people connected”.

“We’ve seen commitments from retailers in recent weeks to offer additional support for consumers, and what is important now that they actively promote the extra help that is available,” Ms Sinclair said.

Chris Dufty, who has been researching disconnections for the St Vincent de Paul Society, said he feared that price rises from several major retailers that took effect on July 1 would see more people struggling to pay their bills. “Those bills will turn up and they’ll be in the hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and people will have two weeks to pay before they start getting threatened with reminder notices,” Mr Dufty said. “Two weeks to find $600-$700 that you weren’t expecting is a huge amount of money to find in such a small time.”

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation yesterday wrote to the Prime Minister calling for a moratorium on residential power disconnections until the government abolished the Renewable Energy Target and binned the Finkel review. Senator Hanson, who warned this week that pensioners were “living by candlelight”, said the rise in disconnection rates was “more proof” that the government had embraced the “leftwing climate and energy policies of Labor and the Greens”.

One Nation Queensland senator Malcolm Roberts called for an emergency meeting of the Council of Australian Governments and warned the “flawed and erroneous” assumptions in the Finkel review would result in jobs and industry destruction.

NSW Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who chairs both the Liberal Party and parliamentary environment committees, said there were record numbers on hardship plans or deferred payments.

“To think that, in our country in the 21st century, there are families sitting in the dark and the cold because they’ve had their electricity cut off — how can anyone survive if you have your electricity cut off?” he said. “This is the consequence of policy failure. Everyone looks at the wind turbines and says ‘aren’t they pretty’

— but the subsidies put upward pressure on prices.” He said his constituents wanted a “freeze on subsidies” and were against pushing the renewable energy mix up to 42.5 per cent as recommended by the Finkel report.
The Australian

Craig Kelly: one Liberal MP on the peoples’ side.

 

Once upon a time it would have been the Australian Labor Party coming to the rescue of the poorest and most vulnerable in the Australian community.

That was then, this is now.

The ‘modern’ ALP worked out long ago that there were billions of dollars to be made from soaking in the renewable energy subsidy trough.

It was the Labor/Green Alliance that upped the Federal RET to 45,000 GWh back in 2010, driven by then Environment Minister, Greg Combet who, along with his old union mate, Garry Weaven, used the Union Super money they controlled to invest in wind power outfits like Pacific Hydro.

Moreover, in order to keep the subsidy trough full to overflowing, Labor is doing everything in its power to pander to the hard-green-left (hoping to prevent the Greens from taking their inner-city seats) pushing for a ludicrous 50% RET, as well as determining to destroy the grid, households and businesses by attacking the only power source capable of delivering reliable and affordable power in Australia: coal.

In politics change takes time. But, like a glacier, once movement commences, the path to the finish is inexorable.

Stories like the one above, that appeared on the front page of the Weekend Australian, the only nationally distributed broadsheet, have a habit of focusing the attention of politicians, particularly backbenchers sitting in marginal seats. And it is just that phenomena that is responsible for this quote taken from the article above:

Government MPs told The Weekend Australian that state and federal renewable energy targets and gas moratoriums were “overly ambitious”, and they expressed support for Tony Abbott’s alternative plan to freeze the RET, pause subsidies for renewables and explore new coalfired power generation.

Not so long ago, the Liberal/National party line was that it was only state renewable energy targets that were “overly ambitious”.

Now that rocketing power prices have overtaken everything else on the voting public’s radar, nervous Liberal and National MPs are hoping to firewall themselves against the inevitable electoral flogging that awaits.

As STT has reported on a number of occasions, the only Coalition member who truly understands the causes and consequences of Australia’s self-inflicted energy debacle is Liberal Member for Hume, Angus Taylor.

From here on, any journalist writing about what happens next in Australian energy policy who fails to mention Angus Taylor clearly hasn’t been paying attention.

Every time Josh Frydenberg, the putative Energy and Environment Minister, opens his mouth it becomes even more apparent that this man is completely out of his depth; reminding STT of Mark Twain’s quip about it being: ‘Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt’.

Frydenberg’s smoke and mirrors argument about the impact of Labor’s tax on CO2 emissions on power prices is risible.

Frydenberg presides over the most expensive CO2 tax in the world.

The Federal LRET began on the assumption that 1 MWh of wind power would wholly displace 1 MWh of coal-fired power, thereby reducing CO2 emissions in the electricity generation sector by 1 tonne. Because that assumption was no more than unsubstantiated fiction, it was quietly removed from the Clean Energy Regulator’s public policy documents and otherwise swept under the carpet.

Whereas internationally traded carbon credits, each representing 1 tonne of CO2 gas, trade around $10-12, the cost for (notionally) reducing 1 tonne of CO2 gas under the LRET is $93 – being the value at which Renewable Energy Certificates are designed to trade.

Even Frydenberg’s predecessor, Gregory Hunt was honest enough to call the REC Tax/shortfall penalty for what it is: “a massive $93 per tonne penalty carbon tax.”

Between now and 2031, when the LRET expires, the REC Tax/shortfall penalty will top $3 billion annually and total $42 billion, all of which will be added to retail power bills (at least to the bills of those who are lucky enough to remain connected to the grid).

Whatever Frydenberg thinks he might achieve for his mates in the wind industry, there are around 25 Liberal and National MPs ready to take an axe to Australia’s suicidal renewable energy policies, if for no other reason than self-preservation.

When Alan Finkel’s fantasyland review of Australia’s power market crisis hit the stands, STT took the view that he had, in fact, done Australia the greatest service by advocating for a ludicrous 42% RET (albeit cloaked in the term ‘clean energy target’, surrounded by heroic assumptions and fanciful predictions).

By making the nonsensical argument that, practically, tripling the level of wind and solar power on the Australian grid (42% is 2.8 times wind and solar’s combined current contribution of 15%) would reduce power prices – at a time when major retailers were announcing across the board, year-on-year retail power price increases of between 16 and 20% – Finkel’s report and recommendations became a lightning rod, attracting everyone’s attention to the reason for those rocketing power prices: namely the current Large-Scale RET – a $3 billion a year tax on all power consumers.

As STT has said, time and time again, any policy which is unsustainable will implode: either by reason of its own imponderable weight, or because those who were witless enough to create it are eventually forced to scrap it.

Australia’s Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target is just such a policy.

The divisions within the Liberal Party over energy policy may well result in the destruction of the party, as it stands.

While the Liberal Party’s future may be clouded in uncertainty, one certainty has emerged: Australia’s renewable energy target is doomed.

Don’t worry Malcolm, I’ve got this.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. GiveaDogaBone says:

    Is the man who started all this mayhem :-
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/mar/05/climate-change-hockey-stick-michael-mann

    going to go to prison for climate data fraud?
    http://principia-scientific.org/breaking-michael-mann-doubles-down-over-contempt-issue/
    Michael Mann Doubles Down Over ‘Contempt’ Issue
    Published on July 7, 2017

  2. Melissa says:

    Great people are standing up pointing out facts often at great risks to themselves. I’m proud of these people with such integrity and I’m proud to be Australian. It is shameful and embarrassing for those incapable of seeing the writing on the wall. Energy is a modern basic need for households and these renewable companies contributing to the energy mess must foot the additional never-ending infrastructure expenses continually raising our energy prices, stop lining their own pockets and put the people first.
    What impact will a big battery storing and discharging energy have on life nearby? Will there be further noise, further electromagnetic radiation? Is there a money back guarantee if it fails its purpose? Or will the renewables white elephant keep stampeding and destroying whole communities? The expense and rort continues as wind energy fails and having a battery sitting alongside a turbine is not going to save the day. Will a battery even restart up the turbines when they stop???
    Stop the wind subsidies. Stop building further turbines. And please Education Department stop brainwashing our students and change the wind energy/ renewables focussed curriculum. It’s ok to say NO to wind energy.

  3. estherfonc says:

    Hi,

    Here’s the link to the Petition on the Federal Government website for Australia to Withdraw from The Paris Climate Agreement.

    Please Sign it by clicking on the link below and please also share it with everyone you know. There are only 1497 signatures to date, so it needs to move FAST !

    Closing date for petition is 19/7/17.

    http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Petitions/House_of_Representatives_Petitions/Petitions_General/Sign_an_e-petition?id=EN0264

    Thankyou.

    Esther

  4. Divergent Aussie says:

    The beyond zero emissions report of 2010 assumed a wildly optimistic base figure of 15% of base wind farm output roughly doubling a modeled figure of 8%. It seems that in real life the combined wind farm outputs output drops to as little as 2% of rated combined output. This correlates quite nicely with my previous post in which I stated that wind power output drops by 64 times when the wind velocity drops by only a factor of 4. So it would seem that wind farm output regularly drops to the cut in turbine speeds. This will get worse in an el nino weather cycle as low wind output is correlated with dry weather patterns such as el nino.

  5. Divergent Aussie says:

    All you have to do is quote the facts of the physics. The power output of wind is proportional to half the cube of the velocity of the wind. What does this mean? At the cut in speed of a wind turbine of 12.5 km/h the power output will be just one sixty fourth the power output of the wind at the nominal turbine rated capacity wind velocity of 50 km/h. This means the wind velocity doesn’t have to fluctuate by very much to produce wild swings in power output. A change in wind velocity of four times produce a change in power output of 64 times!

    • John McKerral says:

      DA
      I believe you are correct while the wind speed varies such that it drops into or is already in the zone between minimum (where it first starts to produce electricity (around 9.6Kph) and full power output. However, when the wind is varying in the range between max power output, approx. 34Kph, and the point where the turbine will have to be shut down to prevent damage, about 90 Kph, the wind speed variation will not affect output at all. Wind speed variations in that range do not affect its output, as it is at max for the whole of that range.
      I gained this point of view when browsing the spec. sheet on a particular wind turbine. The wind speeds mentioned were from that spec. sheet.
      Please let me know if you disagree.
      John

      • Divergent Aussie says:

        JM I don’t disagree. My point was that wind power output is a distinctly non-linear in relation to wind speed. On the other hand most folk are under the illusion that wind power output is linear. My post was not concerned with what happens after the wind turbine reaches max power. My argument is that taming wind as a power resource is not as simple as many might think. Thanks for reading my post.

  6. Philip Fowler says:

    We are seeking resources for a Judicial Review of the NSW Department of Planning’s approval of the Rye Park Wind Farm. Since 2008 we have invested $1.2 million in protecting the last remnants of the original Murray Darling ecology and simply have no cash left for legal resources. Collusion, “acting in concert” is hard to prove but the best thing is most of it is in writing already?

  7. Son of a Goat says:

    When my clock radio turned on this morning I was greeted by an ABC rural interview with a Monash University professor discussing the merits of the $100m Tesla battery to be installed at the site of the Hornsdale wind farm.

    He concluded that yes it was a step in the right direction but if Australia was to “power” ahead with more renewable energy we as a nation would need a lot more batteries possibly “thousands.”

    Ill let you do the maths on 1000 batteries at $100m each.
    Those academics don’t live in the real world.

  8. Jackie Rovensky says:

    Disconnections will persist unless something is done – but this goes even deeper than the number of people without electricity, it goes deep into the lives of everyone. Every time a price rises the cost of everything goes up making life harder and harder for people to live like 1st world citizens.
    Companies may now be coming forward and helping their customers, but as each bill rises the debt gets worse, its an ever increasing round of debt that people cannot afford to payoff. While those caught in this nightmare are also suffering from guilt and shame that they cannot look after their families and lives without mounting debt. This should never happen in a 1st world nation but it is being thrust on people who have done nothing wrong, people who have and continue to work hard to look after their families and should not have to ask for handouts or ‘considerations’ and be made to feel as if they are failures.
    A Liberal Government should be able to stop this nightmare, they should be able to accept the status quo is not an acceptable outcome.
    It’s time they accepted they are complicit as they have done nothing to prevent, stall or stop this disgraceful situation.
    It’s time they took a stand and said enough is enough and bring back their backbone and take action.
    Electricity is an ESSENTIAL SERVICE in a modern society and its time this country’s leaders accepted this and stood up for the people of this Nation.
    Ban any more turbines, allow solar as long as it has a storage facility and is not installed too close to inhabitable property boundary’s, remove any turbines that are causing adverse health outcomes, and the RET and REC’s, take control of our energy supplies, this can be done even though they do not own the production modes, they appear to own the Grid, make those who are causing the problems pay a fine for every day they do not meet their installed capacity by a minimum of 50%, fix the price they can charge customers at a level equivalent to that of at least 3 years ago.
    Then watch the turbine owners cry – they will be able to fill a hydro lake and help provide energy from all their very real tears.
    Come on Liberals stand up and be counted let us see who is and who is not worth voting for next time round – your leader should be listening to you not his personal ambitions.

    • Don’t have to do too much in reality. Removing feed-in tariffs/net metering and legislation that mandates solar and wind over fossil fuels will eviscerate the renewable industry. It will also eviscerate the entire Australian economy too as renewable energy companies close their doors. How the politicians extract Australia from this huge, looming mess without causing massive additional damage and heartbreak will be interesting.

      • Jackie Rovensky says:

        Thank you for your comment. However, because there is always the possibility an incoming Government could quickly reinstate that so it needs a ‘shock’ action to close this industry down and that comes with making it impossible for them to even jiggle along at the bottom until they get a Government that puts them first and not the people and country. Unless our current government does something NOW and gets a year or two to set the reversal in motion it will be too late and we will have another term of a dud ideologically challenged Government taking this country into a state of complete destitution.

      • Yes, I agree with you Jackie, but this is not a government that can move quickly, particularly as it is stuck in the rut of an approaching election, behind in the polls and in the midst of a leadership quagmire. Secondly, Australians have had 30 years of brainwashing and wholeheartedly support the premise of climate change.

        The Australian public in large part, and more than any other nation it seems, really believes the world is coming to an end if we don’t embrace wind and solar. Any move towards building fossil fuel or nuclear generation will guarantee an election loss and subsequent policy change at the next election.

        I would like to think otherwise, but I think it’s too far down the road. Policies aren’t going to change until the population faces real desperation and gets to see what wind and solar really can’t do.

  9. Steven J Bernard says:

    This is like the Apocalypse. Are you sure there aren’t Four Horsemen involved?

  10. Jim Hutson says:

    Energy Minister,” taking immediate action to put downward pressure on power prices and secure reliable energy for households”.

    You would have to be flaming nuts to believe this statement. As I drive past Crookwell 3 this evening, now being constructed, another wind farm to add prices to the electricity consumer and to further decay the reliability of our electricity grid.

    Coupled with the announcement last week of a 300 mega watt solar farm North of Canberra, it goes from bad to worse. There becomes a time in life when the jig becomes exposed to all and now is the time to start holding those responsible to account.

  11. Michael Crawford says:

    It is about 40 years since Singapore’s founding PM Lee Kwan Yew forecast Australia becoming the poor white trash of Asia.

    Well the country is not so white now but it is following his forecast, thanks particularly to the watermelon trash that constitutes our governments and dominates our institutions and media.

    The government imposed vandalism of the RET and destruction of our electricity system sits alongside the havoc and waste of the NBN, pink batts, idle and unnecessary desalination plants, the $50B for inoperable French subs in the distant future to buy Pyne’s seat, the endless splurge on the ABC/SBS, Gonski, NDIS, ethnic industry, hordes of special immigrants who are a permanent drain on welfare funds and require increased policing and security costs, etc with money that we do not have but which future Australians are supposed to repay despite the fact that at the same time we are driving industry out of the country and partly paying for our present by selling all tangible assets to overseas owners who will be coming to collect the rents on those assets from the future Australians who are also supposed to pay off the debts run up by Gillard, Rudd, Swan, Turnbull, Morrison, Shorten and the Senators who blocked Abbott and Hockey from starting to reduce those debts.

    Perhaps the only difference with the disastrous energy policy is that its effects are starting to be seriously felt across the continent now, and not lost in the distant future which protects those watermelon politicians from the personal consequences of each of those other disasters they have created for what once was “the lucky country”.

    Chifley, Curtin and Menzies would be united in their disgust for those who now govern this country.

    • This sums up the situation admirably so I won’t add anything.
      Top marks and thanks to STT for an excellent site which should be mandatory reading in every school in the nation.
      It would go a long way to counter the rubbish the youngsters are being indoctrinated with, particularly the human caused climate change scam. Won’t happen of course. The white trash of Asia. Well down that road I fear.

  12. What an unmitigated disaster that could only happen in a third world country like Australia. Beginning with the utter stupidity of Keating forcing the states to sell their government owned power and transmission companies to keep the IMF happy about his failed budgets to the privatization and so called competition between power stations all producing power at different costs to the renewable mess that if continued will end all base load generation in Australia.

    Now we have South Australia using diesel generators totally unbelievable but wait now they are going to have the biggest battery in the world to fix all the problems.

    Talk about a ship of fools Australia is a country run by fools. Once the politicians took over with their five-year contract advisors the writing was on the wall for electricity supply in Australia.

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