Wind Power Disaster Unfolds: SA Facing Total Blackouts, Rocketing Power Prices & Thousands More Chopped from the Grid
To call what South Australia’s Labor government has ‘gifted’ their constituents an energy ‘policy’, is to flatter it as involving some kind of genuine ‘design’. It’s an economic debacle, pure and simple.
The current mess started under former Premier, Mike Rann – a former spin-doctor, whose relatives lined up at the wind power subsidy trough from the get-go.
Under its current vapid leader, Jay Weatherill, SA’s Labor government has been talking up a wind powered future for months now; swanning off to Labor’s fantasy world, where the wind blows and the sun shines 24 x 365; and the power is, of course, totally “free” – with his claims that SA can ‘enjoy’ more than 50% of its power from the sun and the wind, with just a little (more) government “help”.
Back in ‘harsh reality land’, however, Jay’s presiding over the worst unemployment in the Nation, at 8% – and soon to rocket – worse still than perpetual basket case, Tasmania. Here’s In Daily on the latest dole queue figures.
SA jobless down but still worst in nation
15 October 2015
South Australia unemployment figures experienced a slight drop of 0.2 per cent in September, but the state still has the highest jobless rate in Australia.
Date released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday morning show the SA jobless rate fell from 7.9 to 7.7 per cent, seasonally adjusted, the second biggest fall after Tasmania (down 0.4 per cent).
However, more South Australians are also leaving the job search.
SA had the largest decrease in the seasonally adjusted participation rate (down 0.8 percentage points), followed by Western Australia (down 0.6 percentage points) and Tasmania (down 0.5 percentage points).
Seasonally adjusted figures for September show SA had 864,200 people in jobs, with 66,400 people looking for work.
Victoria was the only state with an increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, up 0.1 per cent.
The trend rate for South Australia increased to 8 per cent.
National unemployment figures remained at 6.2 per cent (seasonally adjusted).
Employment, Higher Education and Skills Minister Gail Gago said the State Government had directed its focus on struggling South Australians.
“We recognise the difficult road ahead for many workers as we transition from the old economy to the new economy.
“Last week, we saw Alinta announce it will close its coal-fired power station by March next year.
“We are also seeing a downturn in resources jobs across the nation as a result of a global collapse in commodity prices.”
Gago said diversifying the economy while investing in new and growing industries were part of the government’s long-term structural reform.
With economics ‘maestros’ like Gail Gago focusing on ‘struggling South Australians’, they’re in for a bumpy ride on her “difficult road”; to be sure. That the road was laid by megalomaniacs like Mike Rann and ‘serviced’ by the completely ‘Clueless’ Jay Weatherill, seems to be lost on Gail Gago, much to the miserable disadvantage of those they pretend to govern.
You see, most with the slightest grip on the basics of economics pick up on the fact that producers of widgets (and the like) are driven by profits (a motive lost on Labor/Green apparatchiks), which, in turn depend upon input costs. For widget makers, butchers, bakers and the like, drive up input costs and, all things equal, their profits will fall; and their ability to invest in their business and employ people will drop off, too.
Where the item is high on the list of inputs, a jump in its cost may see that business, or even whole industries, collapse; as they end up insolvent.
As just the most glaring example, where the input is electricity, industries that use stacks of it – like manufacturers, miners and mineral processors – have been literally crushed, as power prices have skyrocketed; thanks to wind power subsidies and the additional and unnecessary costs of peaking power to back it up when it disappears every day:
South Australia’s economic debacle is, in no small part, due to its diabolical wind power policy; that’s led to South Australians paying the highest power costs in the Nation – if not (on a purchasing power parity basis) the highest in the world.
The fact that SA is an economic train wreck (see our posts here and here) is clearly lost on the likes of Gail Gago, when she talks about a “transition from the old economy to the new economy” – a place where, apparently, the rules of economics are permanently suspended, with skyrocketing power prices having no effect on investment, growth in incomes or employment. Maybe Weatherill & Co’s heralded “new economy” runs on moonbeams and fairy dust?
It’s going to need to – SA ‘relies’ on 17 wind farms and their ‘notional’ installed capacity of 1,477MW. However, its faith in the Wind Gods, pixies and the like seems to disappoint more than deliver:
We covered the dismal data from SA depicted above and more besides here:
That woeful missive drew focus on the pathetic performance of the 17 wind farms that have led to SA being known as ‘Australia’s wind farm capital’: it has the greatest number of turbines per capita of all States – and the highest proportion of its generating capacity in wind power by a country mile. But that tag is far more a curse than a blessing, as the following pieces attest.
SA renewables use may lead to blackouts
Australian Financial Review
29 October 2015
South Australia’s rising share of renewable power could cause blackouts if the Australian Energy Market Operator doesn’t intervene, the agency’s chief executive, Matt Zema, said.
SA’s rooftop solar panels could meet electricity demands during the middle of some days by 2024-25 if uptake continued at the current rate, he said, but this would lead to more volatility and less reliability, and a greater reliance on the interconnector, with the large eastern state generators to keep power flowing on some days.
The warning is relevant for the federal Labor opposition, which has called for 50 per cent of Australia’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. An interconnector is a high-capacity transmission line connecting two electricity markets.
Mr Zema said prices are becoming more volatile in SA because of the withdrawal of coal power plants and the strong uptake in solar energy.
Prices have hit the National Electricity Market limit of $13,800 a megawatt hour several times in the state in recent months. That makes industrial users uneasy and has led to speculation the government may have to pay thermal-coal generators to provide standby capacity. “The signal in that market is you actually need more thermals in reserve,” Mr Zema told a Committee for Economic Development of Australia lunch in Melbourne.
He said rather than Germany, which has a large share of renewable generation and is fretting over security of supply, SA is “more like Portugal – it’s at the end of the grid”. “So if they are going to go completely renewable, they are going to rely more and more on the interconnectors for system security.”
Mr Zema said the Energy Market Operator was intervening to balance the market to avoid blackouts in SA while the interconnector is upgraded, causing outages and complaints.
Peter Dobney, the head of energy and resources at packaging company Orora, told the lunch SA “has become a basket case for large industry energy users” and the outages were costing industry millions of dollars.
But Mr Zema said the upgrade had to be completed before the summer of 2016-17 because Alinta will close its Northern and Playford B thermal power stations in 2016, dropping 15 per cent of current capacity in SA.
He said the Energy Market Operator was purchasing frequency controlled ancillary services or FCAS “to stop SA actually going black if the interconnector drops out”. “How much do you want to pay for system security in SA? Because that’s what we are buying,” Mr Zema asked. “If we don’t buy FCAS and the system trips, we lose the whole state.”
Mr Zema said Germany, Spain and Italy were dealing with a similar problem by relying on interconnectors with France, which has a large surplus of nuclear power.
Australian Financial Review
Hmmm… Not a single mention of SA’s wind farm fleet from the Fin Review. How curious? Could it just be the result of a little ‘group-think’ over at Fairfax?
True it is that the struggling Fairfax rags run with a maniacal cult-like veneration of wind power (see our post here).
But to head up an article as ‘SA renewables use may lead to blackouts’; and to avoid mention of wind power altogether (especially where wind power capacity in SA ‘outshines’ solar capacity by a whopping margin), smells like Ben Potter was deliberately directed to avert his eyes from the enormous, economy-destroying ‘elephant in the room’.
No, revealing that pesky-pachyderm was left to The Australian which, funnily enough, while covering exactly the same AEMO report, managed to draw reference to SA’s woefully wanting wind farms (or ‘wind’/’wind generation’) no less than 6 times (8, including the headline and the caption to its photo of a turbine: “The AEMO report will reignite debate about wind farms”); and referred to solar panels, just once.
SA ‘risks power shortfalls’ because of wind farm dependence
26 October 2015
South Australia could experience electricity supply shortfalls as it becomes more reliant on wind farms and imports from Victoria, a new report finds.
The report by the Australian Energy Market Operator finds the closure of Alinta’s Northern Power Station by the end of March next year could have an impact in “extreme” conditions over the next three years.
The document, to be released today, is likely to reignite debate over wind farms just as the renewables industry hopes for more support after the change of prime minister.
Malcolm Turnbull’s backing for a carbon trading scheme contributed to him being toppled as opposition leader in 2009, while Environment Minister Greg Hunt has recently suggested that criticism of wind farms was confined to “views expressed by particular individuals”.
Under Tony Abbott the Coalition scaled back the renewable energy target, directed the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to invest in wind farms, and axed the carbon tax.
According to the new AEMO report, the planned closure of the Northern Power station will impact the balance of demand and supply in South Australia over the next three years, increasing the state’s reliance on wind and on imports from Victoria.
“When high demand coincides with low wind generation, plant outages, or low levels of imports, South Australia may experience supply shortfalls,” the report says.
In July, Alinta said it would close its Flinders operation in South Australia’s Port Augusta, which comprises the Northern and Playford B power stations and the nearby Leigh Creek mine, by March 2018, if not as early as March 2016.
Alinta boss Jeff Dimmery attributed the decision to policies aimed at supporting renewables and falling power demand that had led to a glut of power in South Australia. Earlier this month, the company confirmed the closure would be next year.
AEMO has produced its new report on the impacts of the Northern closure because it is considered significant enough for AEMO to update its yearly guidance on the adequacy of power generation in the National Electricity Market for the next decade.
Overall, the report finds the earlier withdrawal of Northern would not impact the point at which South Australia could breach the “reliability standard”, which says that just 0.02 per cent of power can go unserved in an area in a year.
AEMO has previously forecast that South Australia could breach the standard in 2019-20 and 2024-25, with the potential uptake of solar rooftop panels alleviating the situation in the years between.
Could it be that Fairfax hacks have been engaged in a little ‘cherry-picking’, in order to keep spinning its ‘wonders-of-wind’ editorial line? Same AEMO report being covered, but an entirely different story. George Orwell generated a whole lingua franca – including terms such as “newspeak”; “doublespeak”; and “doublethink”- to capture what Fairfax considers should pass for ‘journalism’, these days (see our post here).
When the AEMO report talks about times when: “high demand coincides with low wind generation, plant outages, or low levels of imports, South Australia may experience supply shortfalls” it’s referring to data like this from June this year (the graph above is from May), showing the chaos that is wind power generation in South Australia:
In the AFR piece it talks about occasions when: “Prices have hit the National Electricity Market limit of $13,800 a megawatt hour several times in the state in recent months”.
But, for some strange reason, the AFR fails (or refuses) to join the dots: those occasions – when the spot price paid to generators goes from around $70 per MWh to the market cap of $13,800 per MWh perfectly coincide with sudden (and often, complete) wind power output collapses, as detailed here:
The cost of SA’s insane wind power policy is borne, of course, by its beleaguered (remaining) businesses; and struggling households (think old-age pensioners and the thousands of unemployed).
This is a State where some 50,000 homes have been disconnected from the grid – families simply no longer able to pay their power bills; who’ve been reduced to lighting their homes with candles, and, unable to power a fridge, using Eskies (coolers) to keep their perishables – cooking on wood stoves and trying to keep warm using barbeques.
With the fall-out from its wind power fiasco unfolding fast, hundreds of businesses will hit the wall; and thousands more households will soon get to join the tens-of-thousands, already sitting freezing (or boiling) in the dark.
SA power prices to surge by $150 a year, report warns
22 October 2015
POWER prices will surge up to $150 a year for hundreds of thousands of householders under controversial changes to electricity charges, an investigative report warns.
The SA Council of Social Services report also says small businesses face a 50 per cent rise in power costs and that this could force some to close.
The findings are based on a SACOSS investigation into the impact of rule changes by the Australian Electricity Market Commission.
The change is designed to shift the demand for power away from peak periods to take pressure off the network.
In response to the new rules, SA Power Networks has proposed introducing a monthly network charge calculated on a customer’s highest half-hour of energy use between 4pm and 9pm on any given day.
This will provide a “pricing signal” to customers to ration the use of appliances, SAPN spokesman Paul Roberts said.
“That means not turning on all major appliances at once during peak periods such as tea time on a hot day, instead delaying using the dishwasher or washing machine until later,” he said.
But SACOSS executive director Ross Womersley said the changes, beginning as early as 2017, would see half of all householders worse off.
“It would be madness for this to proceed and any changes should be deferred for at least a few years,” he said.
“And this new system should be introduced only on a voluntary basis, which would allow people to opt in only if they believe they will be better off.
“This is because people on low income and many other householders would be worse off.”
According to the SACOSS report, which will be submitted to SAPN as part of the network company’s consultation process:
APPROXIMATELY 50 per cent of householders would be worse off
THE biggest bill increases could reach $150 a year
THE biggest savings could be just $10 a year
HALF of small businesses would be worse off
ALMOST one-in-five small business would face a 50 per cent increase in energy costs
The report also said there was “limited (public) support” for the changes to the billing system.
SACOSS research revealed consumers were concerned about big variation in bills amounts, making it more difficult to budget for electricity costs.
The report said this would have a serious impact on low-income households over summer.
Mr Roberts said SAPN invited “consultation” on its proposed billing changes earlier this month because “we know people care about electricity prices”.
“We’re not only consulting on the detail of the changes, but also an appropriate transition that protects the interests of customers and gives them time to adjust to the changes.