Affordable Energy Wars: Australian MPs Determined to End Subsidies to Wind & Solar

Pro-progress General: Monash lit up Victoria.


The solution to Australia’s self-inflicted energy calamity involves a battle between deluded zealots and pragmatic realists.

In the former camp sits Audrey Zibelman (head of AEMO) and Kerry Schott (head of the Energy Security Board), along with a band of equally deluded fellow travellers. In the latter, it’s the 30 or so Liberal and National MPs in the Monash Forum who are leading the charge, at least at the political level.

STT hears that the members of the Monash Forum ripped into PM, Malcolm Turnbull and his hapless sidekick, Josh Frydenberg during last week’s Liberal/National party-room meeting.

Some of what was dished up is laid out in the article from The Australian below.

Tony Abbott blasts Turnbull’s ‘anti-coal’ energy chiefs
The Australian
Greg Brown
22 May 2018

Tony Abbott, a leading member of the Coalition’s pro-coal ­Monash Forum, has lashed out at Malcolm Turnbull’s energy mandarins, accusing top bureaucrats of being “biased against coal” and exposing the government as “pretending” to be technology-neutral in its approach to energy.

After AGL Energy yesterday knocked back a $250 million offer from Alinta Energy to buy the ­Liddell Power Station in NSW, the former prime minister and ­Barnaby Joyce urged the government to forcibly acquire the plant, a ­request that was rejected by ­Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

Mr Frydenberg has effectively conceded the government is not prepared to take stronger action to keep the ageing coal-fired power station open, instead urging AGL to ensure it finances the company’s alternative gas and renewables plan to make up for the shortfall from Liddell’s closure.

Mr Joyce yesterday told The Australian he would tell the ­Coalition partyroom today that the government should “forcibly acquire Liddell” or build a new plant near the Hunter Valley site.

Meanwhile, Liberal MP Craig Kelly said at today’s partyroom meeting he would urge the government to toughen competition laws to prevent AGL closing the plant.

Mr Abbott also broadened his criticism of the government’s ­approach on coal to target the “bias” of leading energy officials, including Australian Energy Market Operator chief executive Audrey Zibelman.

Mr Abbott took issue with recent comments from Ms Zibelman, when she said the equivalent of a coal-fired power plant was being added to the ­energy system every year through rooftop solar panels.

He and other pro-coal MPs, including Resources Minister Matt Canavan, this month attacked Energy Security Board chairwoman Kerry Schott for saying there was no longer an investment case for a new coal-fired power station.

“I’m sick of people who should know better pretending that unreliable power sources can substitute for reliable ones,” Mr Abbott told The Australian.

“Solar panels are all very well, but when the sun doesn’t shine they don’t generate any power. That’s why we need new coal-fired paper stations if our power is to ­remain affordable and reliable.

“The government should stop pretending it’s technology-neutral when its own officials are so plainly biased against coal even though it’s still by far the cheapest form of baseload power.”

Ms Zibelman, a former New York energy bureaucrat, warned in her speech at the Centre for ­Independent Studies in Sydney last month that the increased uptake of solar panels would make the energy market more unstable as the market could lose between 200 and 300 megawatts of power if the sky was clouded in a major city.

“It is a very variable system that we have to manage, which is very different than before,” she said. “It’s a big disrupter.”

A spokesman for AEMO said Ms Zibelman’s comments were made in response to the choices being made by energy consumers.

“As the independent market and power system operator, AEMO is making sure the power system can respond to the consumer choices and these changes to ensure we continue to maintain a reliable and secure power system at the least cost,” the AEMO spokesman said.

Mr Abbott yesterday compared AGL to a “militant union” for ­refusing to sell the Liddell station, ­declaring the time had come for the government to intervene.

“The government should compulsorily acquire this power station for the price that Alinta were prepared to pay and then it should sell it to Alinta and they can operate it,” Mr Abbott told 2GB.

“That way we keep Liddell open and we don’t have the government running a power station because Alinta has put its hand up and said ‘we will do it’.”

Mr Frydenberg said a compulsory acquisition of Liddell would be against Liberal values.

“(The AGL board) has said they are not proceeding with it. This is disappointing — even the fact that AGL did not feel fit to invite Alinta in to do due diligence to see if it would change its offer is dis­appointing, but that was always going to be a commercial decision,” he said.

Asked if there was any further action the government would take to try to keep Liddell open, Mr Frydenberg said: “One thing I can give you a guarantee on is we will not allow any shortfall in the domestic energy market.’’ He said AGL was acting in self-interest in not selling the plant to Alinta as the company was trying to keep power prices high.

Mr Kelly, an outspoken coal advocate, questioned whether Ms Zibelman — whom he called a ­“climate-change alarmist” — should have been appointed the head of AEMO last year.

He attacked her comments about rooftop solar as “misleading” and feeding the “green fantasy make-believe”.

“This is misleading because ­although the subsidies are driving around 1000MW capacity of new rooftop solar to be installed each year across the national grid — in comparison Liddell has a rated ­capacity of 1800MW and Hazelwood had 1600MW — rooftop solar only works at a 15 per cent ­capacity factor,” Mr Kelly said.

“That is, it only delivers its full capacity for a few minutes in the middle of the day — and across the year, it will only produce electricity at 15 per cent of its rated ­capacity.

“In contrast a new coal-fired power station can operated at around 90 per cent capacity producing electricity on demand.”
The Australian

What Monash started still powers Victorians and South Australians and …


Greg Brown keeps referring to “pro-coal MPs” as if they were teenagers barracking for their favourite football team. Greg, around 80% of Australia’s electricity demand is satisfied by coal, and that ratio isn’t about to change, anytime soon. For the uninitiated, the sun sets every day (you can set your watch by it), and the wind is as fickle as the … ahem, wind:

Greg Brown (and he’s far from alone) is one of the blissfully ignorant class, who occupy a world detached from what really makes it tick. In his brilliant textbook for life, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Jordan Peterson uses the example of a laptop to explain just how complex modern society is:

Your laptop is a note in a symphony currently being played by an orchestra of incalculable size. It’s a very small part of a much greater whole. Most of its capacity resides beyond its hard shell. It maintains its function only because a vast array of other technologies are currently and harmoniously at play. It is fed, for example, by a power grid whose function is invisibly dependent on the stability of a myriad of complex physical, biological, economic and interpersonal systems.

Indeed, it is.

The next time Greg Brown or anyone else starts prattling on about someone else being ‘pro-coal’, they should immediately unplug their laptops, PCs, Phabletts, etc and see how long they can take the system that powers them for granted.

Sanctimonious Twitter jockeys bleating interminably about the ‘inevitable transition’ to an all-renewable energy future would have nowhere to rant and no one to rant at, were it not for the reliable and affordable electricity delivered by coal and gas.

Pragmatists and realist, like those involved in the Monash Forum, recognise that electricity generation and delivery is a system. They also recognise that attempting to generate electricity using sunshine and breezes can only result in chaos.

Rather than being ‘pro-coal’, the pragmatist and realist is delighted at the progress that rapidly followed thermal energy being harnessed and converted into the electricity that is currently (so to speak) powering the device you’re using to read this post, comment on it (or fume about it on Twitter) and to otherwise live a meaningful modern existence. Knowing the value of that progress, the pragmatist and realist is not about to have the system that enables it destroyed by ideologues who simply have no idea how it works.

Reliable electricity matters. But being able to afford it, matters just as much.

One outfit with a corporate mantra based on delivering electricity when it feels like it, and at exorbitant prices, is AGL. It started the wind industry in South Australia, which led to its inevitable economic demise (as our followers know, the back-water State suffers routine blackouts and load shedding, whenever wind power output collapses, and pays the highest retail power prices in the world).

AGL managed to reel in hundreds of millions of dollars in REC subsidies, before flogging its wind farms in SA to the highest bidders.

AGL is keen to repeat the performance in New South Wales.

Here’s Judith Sloan with a wrap-up on what AGL is up to there.

AGL follows the money trail at everyone’s expense
The Australian
Judith Sloan
22 May 2018

It’s hardly news that AGL would put its commercial interests before the interests of the nation. And when a company is planning to short the market and drive up prices, why would it accept a bid from a competitor to keep the Liddell plant in operation? It just doesn’t work that way.

Ignore all that bunkum from AGL about the company’s commitment to combating climate change and its shift from coal to renewables. It’s simply following the money trail, even if there are profoundly anti-competitive aspects to the way the company operates — its ownership of a dominant retail operation, for instance.

And don’t believe AGL’s estimate of $920 million to keep the Liddell plant going. Most of the board wouldn’t know the difference between a megawatt and a Gucci handbag. They will have been easily swayed by the latter-day Sol Trujillo of Australian business, Andy Vesey, chief executive of AGL.

Something doesn’t ring true here. Liddell is so valuable that Alinta’s bid of $250m is too low but it’s too expensive to keep going. Politicians and consumers should smell a rat.

Recall that the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission opposed the company buying both the Bayswater and the Liddell power stations because it would diminish competition, but the watchdog’s recommendation was overturned.

As events panned out, the ACCC was completely on the money and AGL is simply exercising its full market power to take low-cost coal electricity out of the market and partially replace it with unreliable renewable energy and a small amount of very expensive gas.

And let’s not forget that the Australian Energy Market Operator has warned us that “when Liddell retires there is a significant potential for involuntary load shedding (loss of power) during hot summer days, without additional investment in dispatchable resources. The risks grow every year due to projected increases in electricity demand, driven largely by continued population and economic growth forecasts.”

Note here that the Turnbull government has no intention whatsoever of reducing our unsustainably high rate of population growth caused by our immigration intake.

So here’s what the government should do:

  • Consider calling a royal commission into the electricity market since the appalling behaviour of many of the players is right up there with banks and financial-service companies;
  • Revise the competition laws to ensure that it is simply not possible for a company to control the supply chain from molecule to electron as AGL does;
  • Request in the strongest terms that AGL make the Liddell plant available for leasehold to the government, which will pay a return on the written-down value of the plant; and
  • Upgrade the plant to include scrubbers to reduce emissions and invest to prolong the life of the plant for 10 more years.

The alternative is ongoing increases in electricity prices and further closure of large energy-intensive plants.

It’s a bleak future and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg’s much-vaunted national energy guarantee will do nothing to improve it.
The Australian

Liddell: powering laptops and oh so much more in NSW.

About stopthesethings

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


  1. First, the Liddell power station is owned by AGL. Any action to forcibly change ownership is reprehensible. It’s AGL’s to do with what the company wishes within the laws of the land.
    That said, this is completely outrageous that the power market has progressed to this point and an phenomenal failure of federal government. The federal government’s hands are tied and Vesey is going to take Turnbull to the cleaners. I can imagine in all the time vasilating over the last several years has enabled Vesey to line up his ducks and have a top notch legal team armed to the teeth. Turnbull will pay and pay big. The interesting part is not how Turnbull or the federal government next in power is shafted by AGL, but by how much.

  2. Terry Conn says:

    The full list of names in the Monash group need publication so they can be publicly lauded and supported by their electorates suffering from the vandalism to our nation by the likes of Zibelman and Vesey (from the United States), Turnbull, Frydenberg and, apparently, the entire representative party of Australian workers (the ALP),the Greens and the nation’s entire public service body and academic body – those gutless conservatives who know the truth but have two bob each way need also to be listed so we can target them and vilify them and perhaps stone them, if not to death then certainly into oblivion.

    The ‘reality’ expressed in the articles reproduced in this STT post is so true for a myriad of ordinary hard working Australians that many are now feeling the ‘pain’ of exorbitant prices and the unreliability of electricity supply but still many do not understand the cause – in this regard the Monash group must keep the band playing louder and louder until everybody hears the message – they are catching on, Turnbull and Frydenberg are looking more and more silly everyday – the commenters on The Australian newspaper articles used to be about 5% against the ‘renewables’ insanity, but now they about 95% against and the momentum is even spreading into the Fairfax press – wake up Josh and go away Malcolm.

    • So true and Australian governments should enact penal laws for anyone acting against the national interest. The USA sentenced Jeff Skilling to 24 years in Jail for the Enron debacle – in Australia he would have been given an order of Australia and looked on as a god and worshipped by the loony left and greens.

  3. Son of a goat says:

    The Renewable Energy Messiah and the New Age Aristocracy.

    The English society of aristocracy of the 18th century was mainly based on bloodlines. If one was born of noble heritage, one would surround themselves with the similarly well heeled and the mere peasants were but servants. Sport consisted of a fox hunt with “horse and hound.”

    Today whilst the lines between the “haves”and “have nots” may be more blurred there has developed a more insidious aristocracy.
    Climate change and renewable zealots have elevated themselves onto a platform of superiority.

    If ones vocabulary is not fully conversant with carbon emissions, MW as against MW/h or frequency control of the grid, one is ridiculed to not be amongst the enlightened. As the Lovely Audrey said sarcastically of Australians, “Everyone’s an energy expert.”

    For the aristocracy the latest sport in town is still the fox hunt, only it happens in Twitter world.

    Indeed in the last fortnight that energy tradition specialist no less the Renewable Energy Messiah released the hounds. The victim Georgina Downer, daughter of former Liberal Foreign minister Alexander, who is seeking election at the upcoming Mayo election.

    The Great REM through out the bait on Twitter, questioning whether “She believed in climate change?” Sending a reminder each day she failed to answer.

    Georgina was doomed from the start whether she replied or not. The pack of ferocious hounds that were released in Twitter world were unrelenting and savage in their attacks. Indeed with the smell of blood in their nostrils, they drove her to close her Twitter account.

    They New Age aristocracy pride themselves on being a more accepting and tolerant society. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  4. Charles Wardrop says:

    Before I ever heard about the “renewables” scammers and also the attitudes of many, including scientists, in the AGW scare I never knew just how unethically venal and mendacious so many educated people could become: breeds rather depressing cynicism, alas.

    • Charles – just because someone wears a white coat and calls themself “a scientist” (or adopts any academic title) does not automatically confer on them purity of heart. The world of academia has always had many self-serving individuals who assert their scientific purity, but in practice are little better than the grasping conmen who may be found in lesser occupations. The “Climate Change” honey-pot has brought these academics out of the woodwork in large numbers – mainly because the alarmist paradigm aligns neatly with the ideological objectives of many in the political class, as well as the parasites and chancers of the corporate and bureaucratic worlds.

      Those who climb aboard the climate scare juggernaut are therefore able to effortlessly scam public monies under the guise of “scientific consensus” and the false assertion that “the science is settled”.

      Honest scientists who raise the alarm about the climate change scam are destined to metaphorically end up like the unfortunate German-Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis.

      In 1861 he published his observations relating to infection control and these eventually led to the modern concepts of disinfection and hygiene. His advocacy of hygienic practice began to make significant inroads into the death rate for women due to infection following childbirth in the Viennese hospital in which he practiced. However, Semmelweis’ theories were contrary to “the consensus” of the medical establishment of that era, so they were rejected.

      But Semmelweis persisted with his claims, to the great annoyance of his medical colleagues, so they had him committed to an asylum where he died of injuries at the relatively young age of 47 after being beaten by the guards – only 14 days after he was committed. The lot of those who oppose the scientific establishment is never a happy one.

      • “Establishments” are by their very nature only formed to protect people and keep the status quo. One only has to look at the Australian AMA to see total self interest at work.

    • Paul the relentless march of the cultural Marxists through our bureaucracies and universities has facilitated the Lysenkoism that we now see stifling open scientific debate in Australia.

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