Sky’s The Limit: Wind & Solar ‘Powered’ South Australians Hit With (Another) 22% Price Hike

Attempting to rely on intermittent wind and solar is guaranteed to send power prices into orbit. Just ask a South Australian.

Despite some desperate wind industry propaganda efforts suggesting that South Australians are currently enjoying 1970s power prices, Australia’s renewable energy capital still pays the world’s highest power prices – thanks to its ludicrous 50% Renewable Energy Target.

SA’s 50% RET was the product of an unhinged state Labor government; its Federal counterpart wants to bring the South Australian ‘experience’ to every other state in the Commonwealth, with a 50% RET to be enforced nationwide.

The promise has long been that if we roll-out millions more solar panels and thousands more of these things – coupled up with mythical mega-batteries – power prices must surely plummet. Except, reality has bitten – once again – in Australia’s wind and solar capital.

Which makes it pretty hard for wind and sun worshippers to avoid the bleeding obvious. Here it is.

South Australian household debts spiral, disconnections rise as power bills skyrocket
The Advertiser
Daniel Wills
13 December 2018

Many South Australian households were hit with a 22 per cent increase to their power bills over the past year, again the highest in the country, prompting disconnections and spiralling debt levels.

As power reliability and prices solidify as a key Federal Election issue, the Australian Energy Regulator’s annual report confirmed massive increases in bills are hitting the poorest people hardest.

The AER, one of the country’s peak energy bodies, confirmed that SA “has the most expensive electricity in the jurisdictions that we regulate” after spiking again in 2017-18.

About 100,000 households and businesses on standard offers in SA experienced a 22.1 per cent increase, the biggest in Australia. Low-income SA households now spend a crippling 11.2 per cent of their disposable income on electricity, which is also triggering a rise in disconnections.

The report warns that customers who fail to shop around could face an average $3000 bill in the coming year. The report encourages companies to do more for customers doing it the toughest.

“Middle and high income households may have greater capacity to make choices within the home to mitigate overall energy consumption,” the AER finds. “Retailers have an obligation to ensure that customers are provided with concessions where appropriate.

“For vulnerable low-income households, spending more on energy means spending less on other living costs.

Retailers should be working with customers to identify those requiring hardship assistance, confirm that they are on the best tariff available and accessing concessions so that they are able to manage their ongoing billing and charges.”

Customers in SA are most affected by electricity debt, to an average of $1524. In just the past financial year, that figure has risen by $586, from $938.

South Australians are twice as likely than the national average to be on electricity hardship programs.

A total of 10,556 electricity customers were cut off in SA during the year, down marginally from 2016-17.

State Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the report “outlines in stark detail the human cost of the mess” the new State Government now had to deal with.

“The Marshall Government will continue delivering our plan to make electricity more affordable — including the largest global rollout of home batteries, new grid scale storage, reliable generation and additional interconnection to import and export with NSW,” he said.

SA Council of Social Service chief executive Ross Womersley said concessions for low-income households must rise, and become a percentage of the bill instead of a flat payment. He was sceptical that prices would significantly come down soon.

“There’s a lot of chatter,” he said. “One of the issues that’s been deeply problematic is the toxic discussion about energy policy in this country.”

Mr Womersley said federal payments like Newstart must rise to deal with cost of living.

The Federal Government will today commit $51 million to the AER and ACCC to help deliver more affordable and reliable energy.
The Advertiser

Getting power delivered in SA is one thing.
Being able to afford it, is quite another.

 

State Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan is right to call the South Australian debacle a “mess”. However, he’s deluding himself and his constituents when he reckons that the fix is more of the same. Dan, make a note, batteries don’t generate electricity, they store it.

Despite the hype from RE zealots, the chaotic and occasional delivery of wind and solar won’t be cured with batteries, large or small.

Sure, at a technical level, it is possible to store large volumes of electricity for a period, such that it might be released when power consumers need it. However, were such a thing ever attempted, the cost of the electricity generated, stored and later released would be astronomical and beyond the reach of all but dot.com billionaires and rock stars.

The world’s largest battery cuts a lonely figure in a paddock near Jamestown in South Australia’s mid North; it doesn’t generate power; it stores a piddling 100 MW worth; it consumes power during each charge/discharge cycle, lost as heat energy; it cost taxpayers $150 million; and would satisfy SA’s minimum power demand for all of four minutes. On those hard numbers, anyone talking about batteries providing an economic solution to Australia’s energy crisis, is either delusional or hoping to sell them.

Dan’s wish list of another interconnector allowing South Australians to tap into reliable and cheap coal-fired power from NSW is unlikely to get off the ground, either.

The interconnector’s cost is likely to exceed $2 billion, a cost which will ultimately be borne by SA’s long-suffering power consumers.

The notion is that when the wind stops blowing and/or the sun sets in SA, South Australians will be able to draw an extra 700-900 MW from NSW, on top of the 700-800 MW drawn from Victoria’s coal-fired fleet, via the two existing interconnectors: Heywood and Murraylink.

What Dan overlooks is that when the sun sets and/or calm weather sets in, it does so across the entire Eastern Grid.

And Dan skips over the fact that there is already a serious reserve generation capacity shortfall, which has already resulted in mass load shedding in NSW and Victoria. With numerous such events occurring last summer, and more to follow this summer.

By the time Dan got his interconnector plugged in to NSW’s coal-fired power plants, AGL would have already closed its Liddell plant, with the loss of 2,000 MW of dispatchable capacity.

Even with Liddell still online – whenever wind and solar down tools – NSW is forced to chop power to big industrial users, such as the Tomago aluminium smelter, as well as dumping households from the grid. What’s euphemistically called ‘demand management’.

It’s like handing up a begging bowl knowing the pot is already empty: disappointment is sure to follow.

Moreover, none of what’s put forward by SA’s hapless Energy Minister will have any hope of reducing what are, without doubt, the world’s highest electricity prices. As David Bidstrup details below.

David Bidstrup on the summer power rip-off
Catallaxy Files
Posted by Rafe Champion
13 December 2018

The other day I submitted an article analysing 2018 YTD costs for wholesale electricity in the 5 states that make up the national electricity market. It did not fly but my interest was aroused again today when an article in the state of darkness daily rag talked about the “big battery” helping to “drive down costs”.

Using the data from the YTD analysis and adding December 2017 I have looked at the summer costs, (December 2017 + January 2018 + February 2018) for QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS and SA to see what the differences are. These are wholesale prices before the transmission people and the retailing parasites add their margins and presumably before the RET subsidies are distributed. Remember also, it is supposed to be a “national market”.

For each state I found the percentage of time that price/MWh was above $150, the actual cost of the electricity consumed in these periods and the percentage of the total summer cost that it represented. The editor cannot reproduce the table or the chart and it may have to await the return of Sinc to see the results most clearly. They can be summarised as follows.

Victoria and South Australia were outstanding in the amount of time when the price was more than $150 per MWh and the amount of the total bill for the summer period that was racked up on those high cost days. The amount of time in the high cost zone ranged from 0.4% for NSW, 0.7% for Qld, 2.1% for Tasmania, 2.4% for Victoria and 4.9% for SA. The highest cost for the period showed a huge range from $280/MWh in NSW through 2,500 in Qld, 4,200 in Tasmania, to 12,900 in Victoria and the gold medal at 14,16676.50 in SA.

Another way to report the difference between the states is to count the % of the total summertime costs that were incurred during those short periods when the price was above 150.MWh.

The folk in NSW have it easy. They had 4.97% of the time with prices above $150/MWh and the total percentage of the “summer bill” was just 1.47.

SA and VIC, the “renewables states” were not so fortunate. For the 2.43% of time in VIC the percentage of the “summer bill” was 32.96. In SA, “the state of darkness and rank stupidity” it was 45.39% of the total “summer bill” for 4.9% of the time.

A chart that cannot be reproduced here shows the gigantic spikes in SA and Victoria on Jan 18 and 19 when consumers were flogged with when prices up $14,000+ per MWh as the system was about to fall over. TAS managed to get free power when SA and VIC were paying through the nose.

As I said, this is supposed to be a “national market”. Clearly it is a very distorted one where consumers are treated differently in different states. When electricity was generated in large thermal power stations the cost did not vary from minute to minute, it was a constant. The only time when there was a price difference was overnight when reduced load encouraged generators to offer discounts to avoid wasting steam. In SA it was called the J Tariff and I expect other states had something similar. Traditional pumped hydro schemes also provided a market for off-peak power.

What we have today is simply madness. No matter how much the gormless pollies and the gullible “planet savers” want renewables to work they will not. As more useless stuff gets added and the reliable stuff gets thrown out the issues outlined above will get worse for us and better for the greedy. It is interesting that the 2 “renewable states” are the ones that get shafted the most.
Catallaxy Files

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak and commented:
    Attempting to rely on intermittent wind and solar is guaranteed to send power prices into orbit. Just ask a South Australian.

    Despite some desperate wind industry propaganda efforts suggesting that South Australians are currently enjoying 1970s power prices, Australia’s renewable energy capital still pays the world’s highest power prices – thanks to its ludicrous 50% Renewable Energy Target.

    SA’s 50% RET was the product of an unhinged state Labor government; its Federal counterpart wants to bring the South Australian ‘experience’ to every other state in the Commonwealth, with a 50% RET to be enforced nationwide.

    The promise has long been that if we roll-out millions more solar panels and thousands more of these things – coupled up with mythical mega-batteries – power prices must surely plummet. Except, reality has bitten – once again – in Australia’s wind and solar capital.

    Which makes it pretty hard for wind and sun worshippers to avoid the bleeding obvious. Here it is.

  2. Michael Crawford says:

    So South Australia replaced one lot of morons in government with another lot of morons. Or is the problem that the same lot of morons stay in place in the public service?

    • Sarcastic Cynic says:

      Exactly! It will be extremely difficult for any sensible action action on the electricity supply front unless the politicians have a “Come to Jesus” moment with the public servants. The global warming mantra is ingrained within the PS.

    • Green Vomit says:

      The Book of Moron is a delusional musical fantasy that has been playing in South Australia for some time. The lead players are political polygamists of all persuasions that will proselytise any energy system that they believe will achieve electoral everlasting life (and simultaneously pork the citizens). The models or pictures of ecocrucifix wind turbines strategically positioned on their walls and desks generally give them away…

  3. Sarcastic Cynic says:

    Like electricity prices in SA, my level of amazement at the denseness and stupidity of Australian politicians knows no bounds. Just when I think the politicians can’t possibly sink any lower in their level of energy IQ, they surprise me with their innovation and deft abilities to do just that.
    “Drive down prices.” It’s a phrase that still seems to have some value in press releases, but should be hung around the shoulders of the politicians that use it as an epitaph to their political careers.

  4. Ertimus J Waffle says:

    “The Marshall Government will continue delivering our plan to make electricity more affordable — including the largest global rollout of home batteries, new grid scale storage, reliable generation and additional interconnection to import and export with NSW,” he said.
    Different Party but the same MORONS. Nothing will ever change in Australia while it’s run by lawyers and not the independent engineers who understand what has to be done. It’s all too late now, but anyone who even whispers Batteries needs to be locked up in a mental institution.

    • Graeme No. 3 says:

      The battery plan will have minimal effect on demand while making it impossible for conventional generators to operate during daytime. The costs of rapid response units (mostly diesels) will be dumped onto those who cannot install solar PV and everyone else as commercial users either increase their prices or shutdown. It’s just an excuse to spend money.

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