Heartless Hypocrites: Renewables Zealots Treat Jobless Thousands as ‘Collateral Damage’

Sacked Alcoa smelter workers early victims of the LRET.


In Australia’s rushed and ridiculous attempt to run on sunshine and breezes, objectivity and compassion were early casualties.

Boffins, journalists and pundits from the green-left end of the swamp worship wind and solar power as the beguiled from some mediaeval cult. What singles out these Pinot Gris sipping neo-Marxists is their malignancy towards Australia’s blue-collar worker.

With a grid on the brink of collapse and retail power prices (once the cheapest in the world) rocketing to the top of the table (wind powered South Australia sits comfortably at the top), it’s the permanent and irreversible economic harm done by the Federal government’s Large-Scale RET that ought to concern anyone purporting to claim a confederacy with the working class.

However, somehow, the class of characters that worship the wind and the sun couldn’t care less about the thousands of jobs which have been lost to rocketing power prices, already, and the tens of thousands of jobs which will inevitably be lost to countries with power prices, a tiny fraction of those prevailing here.

Manufacturing, mineral processing and mining are all under threat. As are the well-paid jobs these industries provide.

Once upon a time, the Australian Labor Party would fight tooth and nail for the worker; going so far as to have identified a ‘right to work’. These days, however, it’s about being in on the greatest government mandated wealth transfer of all time, using Union Super Funds to cash in on the wind and solar subsidies, which the ALP will defend to its last. The only thing the ALP fights for now, is lining its MP’s pockets. Rank hypocrisy, doesn’t cover it.

On that very theme, in this cracking article, Nick Cater takes on a veritable rogue’s gallery of hypocrites.

We’ll have it right when renewables mafia squeals
The Australian
Nick Cater
19 September 2017

Few contributions to the energy debate have been less helpful than that of Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief and international purveyor of smugness.

Figueres spoke at a Sydney city council event last week with Lord Mayor Clover Moore in a session billed as “a conversation about how entrenched inequality, rising populism and political instability are contributing to an uncertain future”. While in town Figueres dropped in at the ABC’s 7.30 studio to make some condescending remarks about Australia.

“Maybe it’s because we’re Down Under that things are somewhat upside down,” Figueres sneered.

“Because most governments are actually moving to lessen their dependency on coal … They understand any new coal is going to be a stranded asset very soon.”

There are few assets more stranded than a wind turbine on a still day, but international climate gurus have little patience for such details. We are three years away from “crossing the threshold”, Figueres told Leigh Sales. “We have a very, very short window of opportunity.”

Someone should tell these people we’re over it: thawing tundra; hockey stick graphs; inconvenient truths; lumbering furry seal-munching assets stranded on floating ice — the whole damn lot.

The tipping point in the energy debate occurred on September 28 last year when the lights went out in South Australia. A technological threshold had been crossed; when intermittent power sources account for 43 per cent of energy capacity, the grid becomes unstable.

The not-insubstantial task of restoring sanity falls to Josh Frydenberg, the hapless minister on whom Malcolm Turnbull has bestowed the portfolio from hell.

Nothing the Environment and Energy Minister can do will unscramble the rotten egg he has inherited. We might wish that the renewable energy target had never been hatched; we might wish that Kevin Rudd’s cabinet had stood up to his moral vanity; we might wish that Tony Abbott had the authority to knock it on the head; we might wish Labor would put the national interest first and support its abolition in the Senate.

But Frydenberg simply has to find the least bad way out of this omni-shambles.

He should forget about appeasing the likes of Figueres, who will accept nothing short of shutting Australia down. A withering editorial in the Guardian Australia and an ABC RN Breakfast interview with a surly Fran Kelly would be signs that Frydenberg was on the right track.

The job won’t be done until the renewable energy mafia squeals. Coal and gas need to be dealt back into the pack, which means reducing the comparative advantages the RET bestows.

Think of a renewable energy certificate as a fine that is sending coal-fired generators to the wall while sweetening the business case for wind and solar, encouraging more to be built and destabilising the grid even further.

How this profoundly regressive arrangement helps reduce the “entrenched inequality” that Moore likes to rail against is a mystery. The RET has spawned a financial investment instrument that is bought and sold to make a few people richer. The share price of Infigen Energy, an offshoot of the failed investment company Babcock & Brown, has grown by 200 per cent in two years.

The cost of the REC, however, ultimately falls to the consumer, especially the poorer ones.

The latest Household Expenditure Survey shows that the poorest Australians spend 8.8 per cent of their disposable income on household fuel and energy, while richest spend just 2.4 per cent.

The hypocrisy of the compassionate class takes your breath away. On one page The Sydney Morning Herald wails about the plight of the vulnerable, on the next page it’s slamming them with demands to increase the RET.

If there were a prize for most heartless headline of the year, Peter Martin’s column in the Herald last Saturday would have to be in the running. “Get real,” it read. “Electricity isn’t that expensive.”

No word — obviously — in Martin’s column about the jobs being lost because of high power prices. Perhaps it is because energy-stressed sectors employ a disproportionate number of blue-collar workers. Few graduates take up careers in steel fabrication.

Freezing the RET at the present level of 23.5 per cent will do little to ease the short-term burden, but it will at least send a signal that renewable energy must stand — or crumble — on its own two feet. The renewable sector must be made to carry the cost of its own instability instead of passing it on to mugs like us.

As things stand, energy distributors are forced to buy in baseload at absurd spot prices while the wind and solar kings sit around their idle generators and count their profits. Why should the taxpayer have to pay for unfeasibly large batteries from a US billionaire because of the failure of highly subsidised renewable energy plants to provide electricity around the clock? The Finkel review says that should change.

The operators of new generators essentially will be contracted to provide power 24 hours a day. Making up for the shortfall will be entirely up to them. They can use batteries, fast-response gas or build hundreds of giant hamster wheels; we just don’t care. All we ask is that they fulfil their contracts by delivering power when its wanted.

Naturally the renewable sector will be indignant, but giving the producers the responsibility for intermittency works perfectly well in other sectors of the economy — soft fruit, for example.

Strawberries, like wind power, were once a product in fickle supply, at the mercy of the elements and other capricious forces. Then the big supermarkets stepped in and demanded long-term contracts. It spurred investment in technology and experiments with new varieties. The installation of growing tunnels allows year-round production as far south as Victoria. The producers are happy, the shelves are stocked and consumers can gorge themselves for $1.50 a punnet.

Call it, if you like, the greenhouse effect.
The Australian

Nick Cater: happily hammering hypocrites.

3 thoughts on “Heartless Hypocrites: Renewables Zealots Treat Jobless Thousands as ‘Collateral Damage’

  1. Christiana-Figueres At a press conference in Brussels, Figueres stated:
    “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history.”
    “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution. That will not happen overnight and it will not happen at a single conference on climate change, be it COP 15, 21, 40 — you choose the number. It just does not occur like that. It is a process, because of the depth of the transformation.”

  2. You put all this out for everyone to read.

    I am asking who cares about low frequency noise,no one everyone is whipped up about this
    Who cares NO ONE

  3. Not content with creating a whole new class of unemployment these self righteous prigs insist on literally torturing people living near wind turbines, who have no way of escaping, with low frequency noise, infrasound and intolerable audible sound and all the while denying it is happening. At some time in the future these ‘prigs’ will pay – you can’t hide from accountability forever – just ask war criminal Mr.Dragan.

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