Australia Closes Coal-Fired Power Plants: Hospitals Forced to Cut Power Use & Power Prices Rocket

Australia’s ‘inevitable transition’ to nature’s ‘wonder fuels’, the wind and sun is looking more like a transition to the Third World.

Rocketing power prices have seen tens of thousands of Australian families cut from the grid, no longer able to afford power at all.

And power ‘rationing’ of the kind one might expect in North Korea, Cuba or the USSR of old has beset a country which once enjoyed the cheapest power on earth; thanks to the winning combination of abundant reserves of coal and gas and politicians with their feet on the ground rather than their heads in the clouds. Although they don’t call it rationing, it’s called ‘demand management’.

As we detail below, the victims of these Stalinist ‘power purges’ include Victorian hospitals (forced to turn off lights and air conditioners) and dozens of energy hungry businesses paid by taxpayers to shut down completely, in order to prevent the grid from collapsing, during a perfectly normal Australian Summer hot spell.

Australia’s suicidal renewable energy policy – the Federal government’s Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target – is a household punishing and business destroying $60 billion tax on Australian power consumers, redirected as Renewable Energy Certificates to wind and solar power outfits.

Precisely as intended, the LRET has gutted conventional generators, rendering reliable and affordable coal-fired power plants unprofitable. The massive subsidies enjoyed by wind power generators allows them to undercut everybody (when the wind is blowing or not blowing too hard), knocking coal-fired plant to the back of the queue, preventing them from dispatching power and earning revenue.

Now the consequence of that insidious market perversion is starting to bite: the places which have shuttered and even blown up coal-fired plant, South Australia and Victoria are watching their wholesale power prices rocket (retail power prices will inevitably head north, too). Both States have power grids dominated (weather permitting, of course) by wind power capacity: 1,698 MW in SA and 1,516 MW in Victoria.

For as long as STT has been in the business, the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers have been telling us that the only surefire way to suppress prices is to add wind power. But that narrative comes unstuck when the evidence is applied.

After the closure of Victoria’s Hazelwood plant last year, the only way for Victorian power prices is up.

Hazelwood closure drives jump in household electricity prices
The Australian
Matt Chambers
20 January 2018

The government-owned Snowy Hydro has lifted this year’s household electricity bills by more than 10 per cent as part of a sector-wide surge in prices driven by the closure of the Hazelwood brown-coal power station and renewable energy schemes.

The Victorian hikes at Snowy’s fully owned Red Energy and Lumo Energy retail businesses, revealed in a search of Victorian government registers, follows price rise announcements from the big three retailers — AGL Energy, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia.

These have been matched by nearly all other Victorian retailers in the nation’s most competitive retail market.

Only Alinta, which has bought the Loy Yang B brown coal power station in Victoria, has lowered its prices, which it says is due to being able to access cheaper power.

Grattan Institute energy director Tony Wood said: “What you are seeing now in Victoria is the flowthrough of the Hazelwood closure, which has been the biggest contributor of higher wholesale prices, which are up from about $50 per megawatt hour to $80 in the past year.”

Snowy is jointly owned by the NSW, Victorian and federal governments. Talks are ongoing between the three for Canberra to buy out the states to pursue Malcolm Turnbull’s Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme.

Retailers say the sector-wide price rises have been spurred by the abrupt closure last March of Hazelwood in Victoria, as well its impact on wholesale prices, and the Renewable Energy Target and Victorian renewable scheme.

East coast energy prices have been rising relentlessly, pushing up living and business costs and spurring fears of more job lay-offs and manufacturing plant closures this year.

The Victorian price hikes have come with tariff rises for small business and follow a July retail price surge in NSW, where price cycles operate around the financial year rather than the calendar year.

Origin said its price hikes were driven by wholesale costs and federal and state government renewable schemes. They had come despite regulators pushing down charges for poles and wires and metering. “The average electricity tariff increase … reflects higher wholesale energy prices, including regulatory green schemes, and ­incorporates lower network and metering charges,” Origin said in a submission to the Victorian Government Gazette registering the price hike.

Other retailers said wholesale prices were the main cause of the hike. Red raised its prices 10.3 per cent and Lumo 10.7 per cent.

Snowy Hydro declined to comment yesterday, but it is understood the company does not produce enough power to supply its customers and therefore needs to purchase power from wholesale markets.

One industry source said if Red and Lumo aggressively competed on price, other retailers would be forced to follow suit.

The source said in the telecommunications and any other industry, tier-2 retailers drove competition “but here, the smaller guys follow the big incumbents and match what the big three do”.

Energy ministers for all three governments declined to comment yesterday on the Snowy Hydro retailers’ increases.

In August, the Prime Minister told the heads of power companies to ensure families were not paying more for electricity than they needed to.

The big three retailers, which all own big generation portfolios, increased their Victorian standing retail offers by 10 to 14 per cent. The highest hikes were made by Sumo Power, at 26 per cent, and First Solar, at 24 per cent.

Alinta, owned by Hong Kong interests, cut its residential price by 3 per cent after learning it was successful in a $1.1 billion deal to buy Loy Yang from France’s Engie, which had also operated Hazelwood. The cut only reversed a 4.5 per cent June price rise, which it blamed on having to buy higher-priced wholesale power before it had access to its own cheap power.

“Now that Alinta Energy has access to lower-cost baseload generation, we are in a position to take action immediately and pass on a discount to customers, with more to come,” a spokeswoman said.

The standing price rises that need to be logged with the government only directly reflect what 10 per cent of households will pay, but they are the only readily ­comparable measure between ­retailers.

Discounts for early payments and offers that lock in last year’s prices for a certain time, such as EnergyAustralia’s Secure Saver program, which negates the price rise if a two-year contract is taken on, can change the base price considerably.

The Australian Energy Market Commission is forecasting price relief next year, tipping a 6 per cent drop in retail prices in NSW and a 7 per cent drop in Victoria, as more renewable energy replaces the gap left by Hazelwood.

Mr Wood said retail prices could come down in the short term but it may not last.

He also said more wind and solar would require more spending on networks.
The Australian

The Australian Energy Market Commission was long ago hijacked by card-carrying members of the wind and sun cult, which explains its wild and wonderful claims that power consumers can look forward to a “6 per cent drop in retail prices in NSW and a 7 per cent drop in Victoria, as more renewable energy replaces the gap left by Hazelwood.”

If the AEMC is looking for gaps to be filled, it need look no further than the combined output of Victoria’s 16 wind farms with a notional capacity of 1,516 MW during the first three weeks of January (see above) courtesy of Aneroid Energy.

A series of precipitous, 800-1,000 MW collapses over the space of minutes (on two occasions total output falling to nothing, and several times less than 100 MW, or less than 6% of capacity) look like whopping gaps that the operators of conventional generation plant most certainly needed to fill.

Although during last week’s hot spell – when an inevitable wind power output collapse created yet another yawning gap in supply – Victoria’s hospitals were forced to shut off air-conditioning and lights to help make up the difference. And dozens of power hungry businesses were paid by taxpayers to shut down. All to accommodate a wholly weather-dependent power system abandoned Centuries ago, for very obvious reasons.

Heatwave puts pressure on national electricity grid
The Australian
Luke Griffiths
19 January 2018

A heatwave gripping southern Australia has put so much strain on the national power grid, some Victorian hospitals have been forced to issue a “Code Yellow” alert amid fears of blackouts.

Victoria’s Department of Health has warned all Melbourne hospitals to check their emergency generators are working in case they lose power this afternoon to ensure the safety of patients and staff.

A Department spokesman confirmed all Melbourne hospitals were asked to check emergency and back-up power supplies, in case there was a power outage.

Some hospitals were forced to issue a “Code Yellow” alert, which means that health services may be required to conserve energy by turning off non-essential lights and equipment.

Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital has powered down lights in the corridors and turned off non-essential electrical equipment in a bid to conserve energy.

More than 1,900 homes and businesses remain without power in Adelaide tonight as blackouts hit late this afternoon, however a spokeswoman for SA Health said regular testing of back-up hospital systems was standard procedure and no specific memo was issued this week.

It comes as a number of Victorian and South Australian companies are being paid to reduce their energy consumption this afternoon as soaring temperatures put extreme pressure on the national electricity market.

The move by the Australian Energy Market Operator came as rising demand pushed the wholesale spot price past $10,000/MWh in Victoria and $13,000/MWh in South Australia as people sought refuge from temperatures that exceeded 40C in both states.

An AEMO spokesman confirmed that its “demand response” measures had been enacted in Victoria and South Australia, a process that sees companies such as Bluescope Steel and Visy enter into agreements to use less power in an effort to secure the wider electricity grid.

AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman said today’s extreme weather conditions have been planned for, with a focus on ensuring an “operating buffer” to manage unforeseen incidents across the system.

“We now have a range of dispatchable resources that can be used to strategically support the market as required, including battery storage, diesel generation and demand resources,” she said.

Nathan Vass from the Australian Power Project said micromanagement of the electricity market was far from ideal.

“But it will become all too common if governments and regulators fail to acknowledge that new baseload generators need to be built to replace ageing assets,” he told The Australian.

“My view is we need to replace like-for-like, and new high efficiency low emission power stations would ensure lower average wholesale power prices, reduce the need for big industrial users to cut production, and help meet emissions goals.”

Earlier today, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said there needed got to be “sufficient security of supply, dispatchability power, power on demand that can meet these very hot summer days”.

The Institute of Public Affairs’ Daniel Wild said “the reason why so many people can escape the blistering heat today with air-conditioning is coal and gas”.

“Governments should be technologically-neutral when it comes to energy generation. But they have consistently subsided wind at the expense of coal, resulting in high prices and less reliable energy supply,” he said.

As demand for energy peaked late yesterday, the spot price for electricity in SA surged past $14,000/MWh for a short period. Similar price spikes are forecast for today. In Victoria, prices rose above $13,000/MWh.
The Australian

Don’t panic, the Bureau says the wind will pick up tomorrow.

 

Hospitals cut power use as supply crisis strikes
The Australian
Luke Griffiths
20 January 2018

A power supply crisis gripped southern states yesterday, forcing Melbourne hospitals to dim their lights as several major companies in Victoria and South Australia were paid to reduce their electricity consumption.

In a major test for Victoria after the closure of the Hazelwood power plant last year, yesterday’s heatwave pushed consumption to breaking point, prompting health administrators bracing for blackouts to warn hospitals to check their generators.

The spot price for electricity exceeded $10,000/MWh in Victoria and $13,000/MWh in South Australia.

Hospitals were already under pressure in Melbourne and Adelaide, with temperatures soaring above 40C and emergency departments inundated with heat-related presentations.

The strain on the power grid was so great that some Victorian hospitals were forced to issue a “code yellow” alert, amid fears of blackouts. This followed a memo from the state Health Department, warning all Melbourne hospitals to ensure their emergency generators were working in case there was a disruption to supply.

A spokeswoman for Victoria’s Alfred Health, which oversees three Melbourne hospitals, confirmed measures, such as the dimming of lights, were implemented to keep energy usage at a minimum. “Hospitals within Alfred Health have taken the initiative to act as good corporate citizens and reduce the use of electricity that is not directly needed for patient care,” the spokeswoman said.

“This is consistent with the advice provided by the Australian ­Energy Market Operator.”

Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the ongoing hot spell in Victoria and South Australia was the first real test for two states that had seen coal-fired power plants shuttered.

“This will be a real test because you’ve got consecutive hot days, and hot days in not just NSW but also across Victoria and South Australia, all at the same time,” Mr Frydenberg said yesterday.

“Despite the bravado from (South Australian Premier) Jay Weatherill about his big battery and everything else, he still has some big challenges in South Australia. They (SA) don’t have sufficient dispatchable power. On any one day, they can get 100 per cent of their power from wind and on another day it can be zero, and that level of disparity and volatility is a problem.”

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio played down any risk to hospital patients, saying back-up measures ensured critical services and care could be maintained.

Opposition health spokesman David Southwick said the energy system had failed its first serious test since the closure of the coal-fired Hazelwood power station last March, which he blamed on Premier Daniel Andrews.

“It’s like we’re in a third-world country,” Mr Southwick said.

“There has been a complete market failure that would never have happened if Hazelwood was still in the game. We’re scrambling and making decisions that are harming industry, harming industry prices … Daniel Andrews allowed the closure of Hazelwood in such a short period, he had so many levers to pull, even if there was a timed closure.”

The strain on Victoria’s health system came as the AEMO enacted its “demand response” measures, which sees industrial users of power such as Bluescope Steel and Visy paid to curtail their operations for short periods to help secure the wider electricity grid. The market operator issued several “lack of reserve” notices yesterday.

AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman said the extreme weather conditions had been taken into consideration with an “operating buffer” of power that could be called upon if needed.

“We now have a range of dispatchable resources that can be used to strategically support the market as required, including battery storage, diesel generation and demand resources,” Mr Zibelman said.

The threat of thunderstorms presented an added risk to the supply of power in South Australia last night, with the AEMO limiting the flow of electricity into the state via the Heywood interconnector as a precaution.

Nathan Vass from the Australian Power Project said micro-management of the electricity market was not a long-term solution.

“But it will become all too common if governments and regulators fail to acknowledge that new baseload generators need to be built to replace ageing assets,” Mr Vass said.

The Institute of Public Affairs’ Daniel Wild said the reason why many people could escape the blistering heat with air­conditioning was “coal and gas”.

“Governments should be technologically neutral when it comes to energy generation,” Mr Wild said. “But they have consistently subsidised wind at the expense of coal, resulting in high prices and less reliable energy supply.”
The Australian

Audrey Zibelman still struggling to come to grips with reality.

 

Somebody in the AEMO ought to prepare a briefing document for their boss, Audrey Zibelman before she makes an even bigger embarrassment of herself.

Audrey was partway through her mission to destroy New York State’s power supply and was lining up to do the same to the USA as a whole, when Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign ran aground.

Unfortunately for Australians, she headed south, possessed with the same maniacal obsession with wind power that she exhibited in New York.

As we pointed out above, Audrey’s reference to “demand resources” (aka ‘demand management’) means forcing hospitals and businesses to power down whenever breezes turn to zephyrs.

But when Audrey talks about “battery storage” as part of “a range of dispatchable resources that can be used to strategically support the market”, you know she really is off with the fairies.

Australia has one battery; it’s located near Jamestown in South Australia; it has a notional capacity of 100 MW (said to equate to 129 MWh); it cost South Australian taxpayers $150 million; it doesn’t generate electricity, it stores it for subsequent discharge (wasting plenty of power in the process); and, on an average demand day, would power South Australia for all of four minutes.

In the first of The Australian articles above, the Australian Energy Market Commission is tipping retail price drops of 6% in NSW and 7% in Victoria.

Make a note of those predictions, and why not see if you can get someone to take a bet with you on the outcome?

With spot power prices rocketing to $10,000 to $14,000 per MWh whenever temperatures rise (along with demand for power to run air conditioners) and wind power output collapses, the only way for retail power prices is up. And, in wind ‘powered’ South Australia, they’re already at the very top. Welcome to your wind powered future!

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Jackie Rovensky says:

    In articles and comments I have heard nothing of the large number of diesel generators purchased by businesses and individuals over past months since SA’s Big Blackout that have in the past week enabled them to ensure energy security for themselves and helped reduce the energy consumption from the Grid.
    This is the Grid which Weatherill is so determined to get people to believe SA is separate from and can look after its own needs, irrespective of facts, facts that any energy put into the grid is shared around it and that coal energy production is the main contributor to the Grid and SA has no coal powered generation anymore.
    I remember back in the early 1970’s when families would camp on the South Esplanade at Glenelg during heatwaves in droves, making the area alive with activity and enjoyment – it was commonly said they did this because they didn’t have air conditioners which to some extent may have been true but it made for a vibrant Glenelg on those hot sultry days an evenings.
    I can see before too long our coastal Councils having to allow this to occur again as people are unable to afford to use their air conditioners, with perhaps even more than before participating.
    I can also see the Adelaide skyline once again become clothed in a ‘fog’ of smoke haze during the winter as more and more people begin to burn wood and what ever they can find to keep warm, because they cannot afford to heat their homes any other way.
    Dimming lights, reducing production this is not a way to forward this nation through this century, or even maintaining our current standard of living, it’s an indication we are deluding ourselves and turning our backs on science that can provide a way of producing baseload energy supplies that can meet our needs without the pollution we are told is destroying this planet.
    We are told some science has shown the world is in trouble and we should listen to it – but we are also told to ignore the science that shows we can produce baseload energy in a way that significantly reduces the problems.
    What a mess science is today, or is it not the science, but the way it has been high jacked by ideological zealots determined to demand support of an industry which can only deliver failure and distress.
    If Australia returned to using the resources they have in more advanced and efficient ways, it could become a power house of industry and an example of how to manage a country in a way its people can be proud of, where all are able to afford the basics of life and extra if they want it. A nation where reliance of Government handouts is something our children and theirs learn about in historical studies and wonder why it was necessary in such a commodity rich country.
    Instead if we continue down the path being taken we will become a backwater of social advancement and industry. A place future generations want to escape, escape to a place where they are not beholden to other for their needs, jobs and future.
    Wake up Politicians and people and see what is ahead and begin to turn things around before it is too late.

  2. Terry Conn says:

    Reply to zzy – you are correct, this is madness, but let’s do a deal, you take Audrey Zibelman and Andrew Vesey (AGL boss) back to the USA and don’t let Mr. Musk back here for another visit and we take your Mexican Illegals free of charge and share the transportation costs – I reckon we would end up way in front.

    • Australia would probably benefit from such a deal! Kind of hard to exist when hospitals can’t even turn on their lights, or when ordinary people can’t pay their electricity bills.

  3. See also Catalaxy:
    “Government induced power crisis averted, for now”

    Before the coming of the various interconnectors, each of the eastern states ran its internal grid based on sound engineering and management practices. The interconnectors provided a new level of grid security capable of alleviating a major shortfall of generating capacity in any region i.e. A major power station outage, transmission line collapse, natural disaster – flood, bushfire, cyclone, etc.
    Nowadays the interconnectors are in constant use, with all their hefty long transmission line losses, just to cope with the tragic failing of politician designed, renewables saddled, electricity generation and distribution systems, that are no longer fit for purpose.
    Add in the profit taking imperative of the multitude of entities that now pollute the entire system and it is easy to see the looming disaster.
    Instead of being a utility that props up and serves the public at large, electricity production and distribution has become a cancer that is eating the heart out of our community.

  4. Anthony Gardner says:

    Dear Audrey
    These are not extreme weather conditions. You are in Australia now. It’s called summer.

  5. As I live in Cailfornia (where we have our own global warming zombies), I have to ask you folks living in Australia:

    What is going on in your country? Hospitals forced to dim lights?! Electricity shortages? Are you people not living in the 21st Century?! This is madness.

    • Jackie Rovensky says:

      We are living in the 21st Century, but with idiots in control who are forcing us back into the 17th Century.
      Until those in positions of influence can return to this time zone we will continue down the path of destruction, we need a time machine to reverse their mentality and bring them back to reality. Until then we can only hope we survive their madness and keep working hard to teach our children that there once was a world where electricity was a common commodity that everyone could afford.

      • Pretty soon you guys are going to look like the last scene from “On The Beach”! A country where there aren’t any people because they all had to leave because their economy collapsed. At least the rest of the world would still be alive!!!

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