Our Best Buddies in Australia, Taking a Well-Deserved Break!

Australia Votes: STT Takes a Little Break

voting

In a thousand places, from Albany to Yerranderie, from the Bungle Bungles to Zeehan, around 16 million Australians have just ticked a few boxes that will determine which team gets to control its Federal Parliament for a while.

As to the future of the wind industry, the result matters little: without bi-partisan support, the LRET (on which the whole stinking rort depends) is as dead as the dodo.

Bill Shorten went into the contest talking up a ludicrous 50% target; wisely, Malcolm Turnbull didn’t say much at all.

Bankers, power retailers and investors aren’t going to place any bets on a weather driven ‘system’, with its existence wholly dependent on massive subsidies that have to outlast religion.

Plenty of government backed industries have seen the plug pulled without warning: just ask woolgrowers and car manufacturers. The only difference that arises from the election result is just how fast the whole debacle collapses: the demise of massively subsidised wind power is inevitable; its doom in Australia (as elsewhere) is a matter of when, not if.

Mindful of Yogi Berra’s adage about how tough it is to make predictions (especially about the future), STT is happy to go out on a limb and call this election a resounding victory for STT Champion, Nick Xenophon.

Nick Xenophon

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Nick, South Australia’s favourite Greek, has been a lone-wolf in Australian politics for almost 20 years: sitting in SA’s Upper House from 1997-2007 and in the Federal Senate from 2008.

This time around, Nick has fielded candidates across the Country (under the banner the ‘Nick Xenophon Team’) – in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

NXT should easily bag 5 Senate spots (perhaps 6) and a couple of lower house seats too.

Jacqui Lambie, Independent Senator from Tasmania will not only retain her spot, but is odds on to bring another on her ‘Jacqui Lambie Network’ ticket, Devonport Mayor, Steve Martin to Canberra with her.

In the last Parliament, Jacqui ran pretty close to Nick Xenophon; and has already stated her intention to follow Nick’s policy lead in the next Parliament.

Xenophon and Lambie

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With 5-6 of his own and Jacqui Lambie plus 1, Nick and Jacquie will provide an insurmountable obstacle in the Senate, to whichever of the major parties takes control of the lower house.  (Bearing Yogi Berra’s warning in mind, STT predicts a narrow victory for the Liberal/National Coalition in the House of Representatives)

And that presents one almighty headache for the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers.

You see, Nick detests these things on economic grounds:

Nick Xenophon slams “reckless” CERES Project as an “economic kick in the guts” for SA

And on social and health grounds:

Xenophon calls it: ultimately, this is a question about excessive noise

While sitting on the Senate Inquiry into the great wind power fraud, Nick often led the charge; ripping into the wind industry’s parasites and their routine lies and propaganda:

Senate’s Wind Farm Inquiry Turns Up the Heat On Pac Hydro’s Malfeasance

Vesta’s Ken McAlpine Forced to Apologise to Dr Sarah Laurie for …. well, just being ‘Ken’

And he also helped Clive and Trina Gare get their compelling evidence across to the World, about being paid over $200,000 per year to host these things and, due to the turbine noise induced sleep deprivation they suffer, ruing the day that the developer, AGL ever set foot on their property:

SA Farmers Paid $1 Million to Host 19 Turbines Tell Senate they “Would Never Do it Again” due to “Unbearable” Sleep-Destroying Noise

After that Inquiry closed, the Senators on it produced a raft of recommendations, including a 5 year cap on a wind power outfit’s entitlement to receive Renewable Energy Certificates; that entitlement is currently legislated to continue until 2031, even for turbines that started operating way back in 2001. And the Senators also recommended that RECs would no longer be issued to projects in States that refused to adopt strict Federal Regulations on infrasound and low frequency noise:

Senate Recommendations Spell ‘DOOM’ for the Australian Wind Industry

STT hears that one of the first items on Nick Xenophon’s agenda is to have all of the Senate’s recommendations implemented and enforced.

Whether it’s Electricity Bill Shorten or Malcolm Turnbull in charge of the House of Representatives, it will be a wily and experienced political animal, who voters simply call “Nick”, that will run the Senate: and sensible energy policy is well and truly on his policy radar.

Time for a break

STT has been hard at this since December 2012. After picking up 29,270 followers, punching out 1,360 posts and clocking up more than 1,465,000 views, STT is putting our boots up for a while and taking a little break.

Thanks for your support and your efforts in helping to spread the word about the greatest economic and environmental fraud of all time.  Keep up the good work, keep giving the wind industry hell and we will see you all in a couple of weeks. We’ll do our best to get your comments up, but – with our editorial team going bush – it might take us a bit longer than usual.

camping

Wind Turbine Projects, a Breach of Human Rights!

March 2016Australia

Human Rights and Wind Energy Projects

This document is a review of the possible breaches by wind energy projects of various of the human rights of people living in the vicinity of a wind project.

It identifies and considers a number of potential breaches of varying impact and of differing ease or difficulty of establishing. In this context the rights to health, safe working conditions and property may be the simplest to establish whether breaches have or have not occurred.

Readers of this document need to understand that it is not in any way a legal argument and that whilst all reasonable steps have been taken in its construction the author makes no representation that the information is complete nor that the analysis and conclusions are correct.

Those interested in the subject should obtain their own advice before proceeding with a formal complaint.

Prepared by:
Peter R Mitchell AM, BChe
March 2016

Index

  1. Summary
  2. Introduction
  3. The Relevant Facts
  4. Has the Wind IndustryPROVEN Its Machines Are Safe?
  5. Level of Disturbance
  6. Human Rights Legislation
  7. Major Breaches of Human Rights
    1. Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment
    2. Discrimination
    3. Arbitrary Interference
    4. Working Conditions
    5. Family
    6. Children
    7. Physical and Mental Health
    8. Homes and Other Assets
  8. Obligations of Civil Servants

Appendices

Each Appendix repeats relevant articles from the Declaration and Convenants with comments in italics on their applicability to the problems discussed in the memorandum.

  1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
  2. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
  3. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
  4. Covenant on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
  5. Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)

A. Summary

IndustrySPIN and uncritical but determined admirers of wind energy have encouraged the political and public view of the wind industry as beyond criticism and critical analysis. In contrast people living in the vicinity of Wind Energy Projects (WEPs) have been suffering both mentally and physically since turbines have appeared in their previously quiet, peaceful and healthy environments.

Some high quality work by US scientistsi in the 1980s uncovered a wind turbine sound profile (signature) that included infrasound and low frequency sound (ILFN). This signature was unlike that of any other source of sound. ILFN at very low and specific frequencies was identified as the cause of health problems in humans. The industry and their favoured acousticians “forgot” this work; but recent field workii in Australia has confirmed the unique sound profile and the cause and effect. Advances in instrumentation are allowing more work to be undertaken in victims’ homes by privately funded acousticians independent of the wind industry.

Characteristically the victims have no funds to seek legal relief or advice but that may become easier as the findings are repeated. Meanwhile the victims continue to endure what they claim are intolerable bodily impacts with their personal sensitivity increasing with timeiii.

Whilst the industry currently feels secure against court action, it has occurred to some that the industry and government regulatory authorities are quite possibly causing major breaches of certain of the victims’ human rights; and that this is an avenue that should, and can, be diligently pursued with a minimum outlay of scarce funds.

Matching of thePROVEN impacts with defined and accepted human rights is the purpose of this document.

Matching shows that rights involving:

  • Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment
  • Discrimination
  • Arbitrary Interference
  • Working Conditions
  • Family
  • Children
  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Homes and Other Assets

are seemingly being both ignored, and breached.

It is not necessary that every one of the above identified rights is breached. One alleged breach against one person at one wind project is enough to trigger the obligations of the Human Rights Commission.

B. Introduction

The Clean Energy Council website states that: “Australia had 1866 wind turbines spread across 71 wind farms at the end of 2014. Three wind farms with a combined power generation capacity of 566.7 megawatts (MW) were completed in 2014 and a further five wind farms remained in progress early in 2015 and are expected to be completed in 2015”.

Individual turbine size (rated capacity) ranges from less than 1MW to about 3.3MW.

Changes to the Renewable Energy Target will require additional renewable energy capacity to be built, most of which can be expected to be wind derived.

There are a variety of problems with wind energy that are unlikely to be rectified soon. This document is concerned solely with the physiological and psychological impact on families and farm workers living within 10km of a WEP.

The purpose of WEPs is to produce power from a sustainable source without producing carbon dioxide. It may or may not be that the planet is facing disastrous global warming; it may or not be that carbon dioxide produced from fossil fuels is a, or perhaps the, major cause. Many believe (but may not actually know) the answers to the above options are in the affirmative. Political parties and members of State and Federal parliaments have, with some exceptions, accepted the affirmative view. The Commonwealth, through the Renewable Energy Act, has directed that power consumers pay large subsidies for renewable energy in order for wind energy and some other renewable energies to become viable. Thus the wind industry operates with aGUARANTEED PROFIT at a level which is very attractive to some investors who increasingly are foreign.

The wind industry’s interest is to protect and enhance its cash flows. Capitalism has a poor record if its product or service is damaging to the public and the environment. In these circumstances it commonly does not seek to change its product but to defend its continuation. Unfortunately this reaction includes tactics of denial and dissembling, refusing to undertake sufficient research on its own products, delaying research by others and attacking those who see problems with the product and are prepared to say so. An expensive campaign of denial andSPINis progressively developed and practised.

Those convinced of the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions see wind energy as a win-win solution (both sustainable and reducing carbon dioxide). However, in the matter of its more carefully defined purpose, that being the net reduction of carbon dioxide per unit of power produced, it is a failure.iv This is mentioned here so that readers may realise that wind energy is not the saviour first thought, and that there is no question of “wind power or we perish”.

However this document does not make the argument about wind being not fit for purpose. Others have done and continue doing that. The purpose here is to consider whetherPROVEN impacts on residents constitute transgression of their human rights.

The following facts relating to the generation of power from wind are drawn from published research and unpublished field work, much of which is available on websites such as the Waubra Foundation, National Wind Watch, etc. website. These are discovered and researched facts, not unfounded assertions nor the output of “post modern” science.

Matching of these facts with defined and accepted human rights is the purpose of this document.

C. The Relevant Facts

An understanding of the nature of the sound pressure wavesv emitted by turbines and the impacts of that energy upon neighbours is essential to any assessment of the possible breaching of human rights. Facts vital to this evaluation follow.

  • Wind turbines produce sound (airborne pressure waves) across the infrasound, low frequency and audible ranges.
  • Sound in the very low frequency spectrum (0.1 hertz to 20 hertz) characterised as infrasound, as well as excessive low frequency noise (20 to 200 Hz) causes serious physiological and psychological impacts on some or all of the residents in a significant number of houses up to at least 10 km from the nearest turbine.
  • Residents do not become accustomed to these pressure waves, but become sensitised, so that the impact becomes increasingly damaging with ongoing exposure.(See Endnote ii)
  • A major impact of these sound waves is chronic sleep deprivationvi often associated with waking suddenly and regularly in a panicked state; but other primary or secondary health problems such as tinnitus, vertigo and balance problems, tachycardia, nausea, migraine, exacerbation of chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, and concentration problems, as well as physiological and psychological stress are also common.(See Endnote ii) Chronic sleep deprivation is classified by the World Health Organisation as a contributor to diseasevii.
  • Many residents find their formerly peaceful homes are rendered sonically toxic and ultimately uninhabitable and, on full disclosure to possibly interested buyers, unsaleable.
  • Young children are unable to understand or express their discomfort, which is often extreme, old people are unable to move for various reasons including financial; and all ages suffer declining health and cognitive power and are increasingly at risk in operating farm machinery, fixed machines and even cars and trucks.

D. Has the Wind Industry Proven Its Machines Are Safe?

The information to support the above facts is readily available and mounting. Whilst the wind industry and its variously motivated supporters deny any evidence exists, and discredit the motives and background of the whistleblowers, the industry has never been inclined or required to prove that their ever larger turbines are safe, or to prove another source that has any scientific credibility for the health impacts that arise around wind turbineINSTALLATIONS.

E. Level of Disturbance

Please read on

Prepared by Peter R Mitchell | March 2016

Wind Industry Knows They’re Harming People….

Call for moratorium on future wind farm developments

Independent Senator for Victoria John Madigan has welcomed the announcement of a study into the effects of wind farms on human health, while calling for a moratorium on all future windfarm developments pending its outcome.

Senator John Madigan
Senator John Madigan

This NHMRC’s announcement is in line with its 2014 recommendations, made following a review of the literature, which found that while it was clear that some people who live in close proximity to wind farms complain that the turbines make them sick, to date there has not been research of the kind needed to properly test these claims.

Senator Madigan said: “This is a very simple issue. We have a new industry operating infrastructure that some people say is making them sick. There is insufficient research of the type needed to determine the validity of these claims. Therefore, the NHRMC has commissioned a study that will do this. In the circumstances, it is the only sensible course of action.

“In the meantime, the precautionary principle requires that all future wind farm development should be put on hold, pending the outcome of the study.

“Criticism of the cost of the study is so misconceived it is difficult to take seriously. Are critics seriously suggesting the government should not spend the $3.3 million necessary to fund a sophisticated epidemiological study that will resolve an issue concerning a threat to national health and conversely, the future of a billiondollar industry that is the beneficiary of hundreds of millions of dollars in government issued subsidies?

“I was initially surprised by the hostile reaction of activist groups and sections of the media to this announcement. These people dispute the claims of those living under wind turbines that this makes them sick. That’s fine: It’s these claims the proposed study is designed to test. Why on earth would they oppose settling the issue through rigorous scientific research? Presumably they expect to be vindicated. Why would they so vehemently oppose this?

“The uncomfortable truth is that many of these activists are passionate about their cause to the point of zealotry. Like all zealots, their excessive passion to advance their cause at any cost has seen them lose perspective when it comes to a broader moral compass. At the end of the day these people don’t care if wind farms make people sick. They just want them built due to their obsession with climate change.

“How else to explain the deeply shameful attacks by Greens politicians and other activists on the people who say they are getting sick. Throughout the inquiry I chaired these people were relentlessly mocked, labelled ‘flat earthers’ and alien abductees, by the Greens, their activist supporters and sections of the media. They justified this on the basis their symptoms were all in their minds, rather than having a genuine physical basis. Yet, even if it turns out to be a psychological issue that made these people sick, how on earth does this justify attacking them.”

Australian Researchers To Study Health Effects from Wind Turbines.

NHMRC awards funding into wind farms and human health

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has awarded two grants totalling $3.3 million to enrich the evidence-based understanding of the effects of wind farms on human health.

Anne Kelso
NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso noted that further research is needed to explore the relationships between wind farms and human health.

“Existing research in this area is of poor quality and targeted funding is warranted to support high quality, independent research on this issue.

“To address this, we need well designed studies conducted by excellent researchers in Australian conditions.

“These grants directly support the Australian Government’s commitment to determine any actual or potential effects of wind farms,” Professor Kelso said.

NHMRC funded research at the Flinders University of South Australia will explore relationships between noise from wind farms and effects such as annoyances and reduced sleep and quality of life.

Research at the University of New South Wales will investigate the broader social and environmental circumstances that may influence the health of people living near wind farms.

The outcomes of this research will assist in developing policy and public health recommendations regarding wind turbine development and operations in Australia.

Professor Kelso said it was important to note that the funding will support only high quality, well designed research proposals.

“NHMRC supports only the most outstanding research. Each application for this funding underwent the same stringent independent review process we apply to all NHMRC grant applications,” Professor Kelso said.

These grants are awarded in response to the 2015 Targeted Call for Research into Wind Farms and Human Health, following the release of the NHMRC Statement: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health.

Information relating to the individual grants is available on the NHMRC website –nhmrc.gov.au

Contact: NHMRC Media Team (0422 008 512 or media@nhmrc.gov.au)

Grant highlights

Associate Professor Peter Catcheside, Flinders University of South Australia
$1,357,652

Good sleep is essential for normal daytime functioning and health. Wind farm noise includes audible and unusually low frequency sound components, including infrasound, which could potentially disturb sleep through chronic sleep disruption and/or insomnia. This project will, for the first time, directly evaluate the sleep and physiological disturbance characteristics of wind farm noise compared to traffic noise reproduced in a specialised and carefully controlled laboratory environment.

Professor Guy Marks, University of New South Wales
$1,943,934

The human health impact of infrasound that comes from wind turbines has not been well researched. This project will assemble a team of researchers with a broad range of expertise to run a short term and longer term study to investigate whether exposure to infrasound causes health problems. The short term study will be laboratory-based and run for three one week periods. The longer term study will be community based and run for six months. Sleep quality, balance, mood, and cardiovascular health will all be measured.

Download the media release

Wind Turbine Projects Suck the Life Out of Another Economy!

South Australia’s Economy the Victim of a Wind Power ‘Suicide Pact’

suicide-note

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South Australia – Australia’s ‘Wind Power Capital’ – is like the cooking show moment where – through the magic of clever editing – a perfect soufflé is slid in front of the camera and the grinning, self-satisfied cook announces ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’.

Except that, in SA’s case, what’s been plated up is an unmitigated energy disaster; that no amount of post-production cutting and splicing can salvage. In SA, its wind power soufflé failed to rise and, once failed, has no hope of rising again.

The recipe for the disaster in SA was drawn up by the boys from Babcock & Brown (aka Infigen) and a disgraced American lawyer and convicted con-man, Tim Flato (who robbed his clients of close to US$400,000, got struck-off, and scuttled off to set up the wind industry in SA and elsewhere) – with plenty of eager help from Greg Hunt’s staffer, Patrick Gibbons and his best mate, Vesta’s Ken McAlpine (back when they both worked as advisers to a Labor Minister in Victoria, Theo Theophanous) (see our post here).

STT operatives have been feverishly digging up more dirt on Tim Flato and his fellow travelers. Turns out Tim was, at various critical times, a director of Babcock & Brown and several of its subsidiaries. But, we digress.

Back to South Australia and its costly wind power flop, with a short and sharp piece from Alan Moran.

South Australian electricity – the state’s suicide mission
Catallaxy Files
Alan Moran
19 February 2016

Here is an object lesson of the effects of winner picking by governments. South Australia’s electricity industry is now threatening to seriously undermine the state’s economy.

Back in October 2014, the electricity market manager, AEMO together with the South Australian state based transmission business, ElectraNet, made some ostensibly soothing comments that the wind dominated South Australia system could continue to operate securely.

Wind is inherently unreliable as well as costing two and a half times as much as coal. But the 2014 report said that this reliability depended upon transmission support that allowed increasing amounts of reliable coal generated electricity to be imported from Victoria and NSW.

South Australia is able to boost wind only because of the subsidy which the Commonwealth’s renewable program and the state’s own measures force consumers of other fuels to transfer to the renewables.

Wind and solar account for 40 per cent (p.5) of South Australia’s generation.

By October of last year the officials’ balm was being used less sparingly.The head of AEMO, following a series of high priced events in South Australia as a result of the wind stopping – as it does – was warning of increasing blackouts in South Australia unless the transmission system was augmented. And the effectiveness of such a patch up would diminish if subsidies cause the share of wind to increase in other states – in this respect the ALP has an “aspirational” goal of 50 per cent renewable share.

South Australia’s problems are about to become more acute with the closure next month of the coal fired 550 MW Northern Power station, a measure brought about by the increasing amount of subsidised wind becoming available.

The latest report [press release here and the full report here: Joint AEMO ElectraNet Report_19 February 2016] again addresses the issue in technical language but is foreshadowing major new investment being required – $1 billion to duplicate the existing transmission links plus other expenditures to allow for coverage of short term drops in generation.

All this spending is necessary in order to facilitate a shift from a low cost traditional electricity supply to high cost rent-seeker sponsored and trendy wind. These measures hammer additional nails in the state’s coffin.

Perhaps the ultimate solution for South Australia, where coal costs are quite high, is nuclear.

The ALP has shifted to support a waste dump but a nuclear generator is a long way off. And in the interim, the government is opening the door to the coal seam and shale exploration that has been rejected by green influenced politicians in NSW and Victoria but again South Australia may have less promising reserves.
Catallaxy Files

Here’s one STT prepared earlier, with a little help from Aneroid Energy – the chaotic ‘output’ from SA’s 17 wind farms during May 2015:

May 2015 SA

One Billion Dollars to “Fix” Mistakes that Should NOT Have Been Made!

‘Saving’ South Australia from its Self-Inflicted Wind Power Disaster Needs $1 Billion Right NOW!

head slap

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Wind and solar create headaches for energy market operator
Australian Financial Review
Mark Ludlow
19 February 2016

State governments may have to spend billions of dollars to duplicate the electricity network to cope with the unreliability of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, according to the national energy forecaster.

As the Australian Energy Market Operator released a report [press release here and the full report here: Joint AEMO ElectraNet Report_19 February 2016] that found there could be reliability issues for the South Australian market, which has embraced renewable technology, its chief executive, Matt Zema, said the rise of wind and solar could also create problems throughout the country.

“It is becoming more and more of a challenge. We might need to build another interconnector to the South Australian market to improve reliability and in the longer term another bigger loop across the nation to be a back-up,” Mr Zema told The Australian Financial Review.

Electricity prices spiked in South Australia late last year after problems with the Heywood interconnector to Victoria, effectively cutting off South Australia from the NEM. South Australia did not have enough of its own locally generated power to cope with demand, which significantly pushed up prices.

A joint report between AEMO and South Australia’s electricity transmission company Electranet found there will be ongoing issues with controlling reliability in the state’s power network either during or following any future loss of the Heywood interconnector and the closure of coal-fired power stations.

Interconnectors are high-voltage transmission cables connecting electricity markets.

“Measures can be taken in the short term to address some of the immediate operational effects, but as the power system continues to evolve, in the longer term there could be an increasing need for changes to market arrangements or infrastructure to continue to meet security and reliability expectations, particularly at times when SA is synchronously islanded [separated] from the remainder of the NEM,” the report found.

AEMO is conducting further studies to maintain power system security in South Australia if it becomes isolated from the NEM.

Grappling with implications

Mr Zema said state governments were still grappling with the implications of moving away from the more reliable coal and gas-fired generation. He said they may have toINVEST billions of dollars in a back-up “loop” of interconnectors to ensure there are not reliability issues which could lead to blackouts.

“South Australia is at the front end of this [renewable] curve, Tasmania is not far behind as they are finding out with Basslink connection to the mainland,” Mr Zema said.

“If you build another interconnector to Victoria you may well extend it from Victoria to NSW.”

A new interconnector between South Australia and Victoria which would cost about $1 billion.

Mr Zema said the only alternative to building back-up interconnectors or more gas-fired power stations to cover for wind and solar – when the sun isn’t shining or the wind is not blowing – would be to dismantle the NEM.

“You either strengthenTHE GRID and have more reliability and more paths or you break it up and its gets smaller and smaller and each state becomes an island,” he said.

“You either become better connected toTHE GRID or you become your own grid which would result in huge price fluctuations.”

South Australia is leading the charge towards renewable energy, especially with the closure of coal-fired power stations, including Alinta Energy’s coal-fired power stations at Port Augusta.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill last year said the price fluctuations would not last and the state would benefit from leading the adoption of wind and solar power.

The precarious nature of the electricity network was further demonstrated by Tasmania also being isolated due to problems with the Bass Strait undersea power cable.

Victoria’s energy market could also be facing an overhaul with Alcoa’s Portland smelter – a large energy users – close to closure. It is negotiating with AEMO about an energy subsidy for its poles and wires.
Australian Financial Review

jay weatherill

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SA’s vapid Premier – a former worker’s compensation solicitor – wouldn’t be STT’s first pick when it came to sorting out a power market in absolute crisis and a grid on the brink of total collapse. His ‘belief’ that betting his beleaguered State’s failing ‘fortunes’ on more of the same smacks of child-like delusion, but, given more sensible (but costly) moves made recently (albeit under pressure) politically driven deception.

Contrary to Jay’s let’s all ‘hold-hands-around-a-turbine’ chanting Kumbaya – and Matt Zema’s line about “moving away from the more reliable coal and gas-fired generation” – SA’s Labor government has just signed their constituents up to throw $50 million a year in subsidies at the French owner of a mothballed CCGT plant at Pelican Point.

That panicked move is all about ensuring something like a reliable power flow (for the time being); and, at the political triage level, is an attempt to avoid any more ‘unhelpful’ wind power blackouts: like the one that plunged almost the entire State into Stone Age darkness last November; and that has businesses, like Uni SA coping with power supply ‘interruptions’ and total blackouts on a regular basis.

email ML

Once upon a time, thanks to the pragmatic vision of its longest-ever-serving Premier, Sir Tom Playford, South Australians enjoyed both energy autonomy and the cheapest and most reliable power in the Country – if not the world; and, with it, unparalleled growth in population, employment and incomes. Now, the reverse is true on all counts.

Always the mendicant State, SA’s Labor government – having willingly signed up to an economic suicide pact – will do what it does best: beg like fury for the Federal Government to bail it out, which means its neighbours will end up footing the bill for the most ridiculous power ‘policy’ ever devised.

tom playford-anzac-parade

Scourge of the WindWeasels, in Australia

How a Band of Criminals, Shysters & Chancers Conjured Up the Wind Industry in Australia

dirtyrottenscoundrelsoriginal

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Now and again you just get lucky. STT makes no bones about its mission: to destroy the wind industry. So it was with more than just a little delight, that we received a bundle of highly incriminating documents from one of our top-level operatives.

At the risk of sounding a little like the showboats behind WikiLeaks, this stuff is ‘dynamite’.

What we set out below is a few pages from the first tranche of documents sent to us (that entire 47 page bundle is available here as a PDF). And what was sent to us is just the tip of a very stinky iceberg: our operative has secured thousands of pages of documents linking (and showing the dealings between) wind industry lobbyists, MPs and their staffers.

Before we kick off though, it’s both helpful and necessary to identify a few of the characters involved.

First, there’s the convicted criminal, Timothy J Flato.

Back in the 1990s, Tim was a practising attorney and partner at Latham & Watkins. Later on, a number of its partners had a few “billing difficulties”; and were disbarred and/or sent to prison as a result.

But they weren’t the first from the firm to earn a little ‘form’.

Tim, then head of the firm’s project finance practice, admitted to falsifying hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of expense reports over a three-year period. Tim’s little billing ‘difficulty’ involved him purchasing airplane tickets, cancelling them, and then submitting the receipts to clients for payment, augmenting his salary by over $100,000 per year. Tim’s accounting fudge amounted to somewhere between $300-400,000; saw him disbarred; and slapped with 6 months home detention for his efforts.

Flato

Having polished up his CV perfectly for the wind industry, Tim Flatohelped set up National Power Company in the US; then headed Downunder and set up another with the mantle ‘National Power Australasia Inc’.

Then there are the shysters and chancers.

Babcock & Brown was absolutely full of them; people like Warren Murphy, Miles George and Adrian Rizza.

These days, Miles & Co head up Infigen, Australia’s most notorious wind power outfit – formerly know as Babcock and Brown – an outfit that was born the bastard child of Enron.

Check out the CVs of the characters in these links here and here and here– a fair number of them brag of ‘solid’ backgrounds with Enron, later lobbed at Babcock and Brown and – when it went into melt-down – scurried off like indestructible cockroaches to hide elsewhere in the wind industry. No surprises there.

During Infigen’s first incarnation as Babcock and Brown, Miles & Co helped to fleece  investors and creditors of something like $10 billion (while its directors pocketed – and somehow managed to retain – 10s of $millions at creditors’ and investors’ expense).

Having spectacularly crashed and burned, Babcock and Brown then shamelessly phoenixed into Infigen – which is about to do it all over again: its losses continue to pile up, it continues to bleed cash and, unable to cut any deals with commercial power retailers or to obtain the finance needed to build any of its threatened projects, it has no hope of surviving its growing mountain of debt (see our post here).

But shysters and chancers like Warren, Miles and Adrian rarely get far without greasing-up helpful political enablers.

In what follows, keep a lookout for the names Patrick Gibbons and Ken McAlpine. Back then, Patrick and Ken were offering up political favours on behalf of Victoria’s Labor Minister for Energy Industries & Resources, Theo Theophanous.

These days, Patrick Gibbons spends every waking hour protecting his mates in the wind industry from inside the Federal Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt’s office; while his best mate, Ken McAlpine heads up struggling Danish turbine manufacturer, Vesta’s Australian operations (that’s when he’s not spreading malicious falsehoods about Dr Sarah Laurie, or acting like a total prat in front of Federal Senate Committees).

Anyway, that’s probably enough background on the villains.

Let’s take a look at how they cooked up the greatest economic and environmental fraud in history, by first targeting South Australia’s dimwitted Labor government. Oh, and if the images below aren’t so clear, click on them, they’ll pop up in a new window, clear as crystal.

BB1

BB2

BB3

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Hmmm…

Now, at the risk of sounding overly critical, what appears above suggests high level ‘imagination’. The protagonists clearly seem to be making it up as they go along.

The ‘XX’s that pepper the document have that second-hand car salesmen’s “pick whatever figure suits you” kind of feel about them. Scratching out the figure of $800 million and replacing it with $1 billion, was clearly aimed at hooking the more gullible fish in the political pond.

However, South Australians (who, as a result of this Memorandum of Understanding and what followed now pay the highest power prices in the Nation – if not the world, on a purchasing power parity basis –  and suffer daily power interruptions and even Statewide wind power blackouts) can only wonder what happened to the promised Vesta’s “blade manufacturing facility”, and the hundreds of ‘groovy-green’ jobs supposed to have been attached to it?

Although we note that the ‘promise’ to establish a blade factory was no “no strings attached” offer; being conditioned on South Australian taxpayers providing “some assistance in establishment costs” with the figure nominated of “XX to cover establishment and other initial non-construction costs associated with” it.

Why beat around the bush with solid XXs? Why not just demand taxpayers hand over an open cheque-book?

Then there’s the fiction about “high winds speeds” at Babcock & Brown’s target site, Lake Bonney.

At Lake Bonney (situated near Millicent in SA’s South-East) winds might occasionally reach ‘high-speeds’. However, the breezes at Lake Bonney are as fickle as anywhere. Infigen’s Lake Bonney operations have a pitiful capacity factor of around 23-25%: Lake Bonney 3 struggles to hit a capacity factor of 23%; and its neighbours produce meaningful power a risible 25% of the time – on AVERAGE.

While Lake Bonney’s performance stats hardly set the world on fire, its Danish-built deadlys have been known to set the ‘country on fire’:

wind turbine fire Lake_Bonney_windfarm

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Then there’s the furphy about “community support” for wind farms. In fairness, in mid-2002 there weren’t too many South Australians aware of what trying to live with incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound is like. That soon changed, once Lake Bonney was up and running.

Far from enjoying community support, Babcock & Brown and later Infigen have spent years trying to deny, ridicule and dismiss constant complaints about turbine noise made by two of its very own contracted turbine hosts, David and Alida Mortimer.

David and Alida (farmers and turbine hosts for Infigen at Lake Bonney) have spent the last few years taking every opportunity to tell the story of their self-inflicted acoustic misery – and to warn rural communities around the globe about the very real impacts on sleep and health caused by incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound (see our posts here and here and here).

While the Memorandum of Understanding is littered with waffle and deliberate uncertainty, there can be no uncertainty that the whole rort was premised upon massive taxpayer funded subsidies – as clear as crystal with the statement that: financial assistance by the South Australian government (read ‘taxpayer’) is required in order to facilitate the development of the wind farm proposed by BBWP” (ie Babcock & Brown).

As it always was and continues to be:

The Wind Industry: Always and Everywhere the Result of Massive & Endless Subsidies (Part 1)

The Wind Industry: Always and Everywhere the Result of Massive & Endless Subsidies (Part 2)

The next item is an effort by Tim Flato to brush aside Babcock & Brown’s perilous financial situation in this letter to the grid operator, ElectraNet SA:

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Audacious and arrogant, the boys at Babcock & Brown were, quite apparently, aware that they would never be able to present financials capable of  earning an “acceptable credit rating”. Probably the only honest statement that ever came out of Babcock & Brown.

When your ‘business’ requires fleecing taxpayers for $billions, there’s the critical need for political endorsement, that has to be ‘engineered’ with a winning mixture of pressure and ‘grease’.

In the next email, note the who’s who cast – including the boys from Babcock & Brown, Pacific Hydro, Patrick Gibbons and Ken McAlpine – all clearly chuffed with their victory in obtaining just such an endorsement in the Communiqué from State Ministers for Energy, that follows.

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With hindsight, for South Australians, at least, that Communiqué now reads like an economic suicide pact.

The next email exchange shows these boys at their manipulative best, as they set out to scuttle the bid by Forestry Tasmania (referred to as ‘FT’ in the emails) to have the use of forest wood-waste to generate power included in the RET.

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Note that the reference to ‘Hill’ is a reference to then Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Robert Hill.

While Forestry Tasmania’s bid to include wood waste in the RET had apparent appeal with the Coalition government, Babcock & Brown and the gang were clearly having none of it.

In a piece of ‘astro-turfing’ extraordinaire, the boys from Babcock & Brown set out to have the Greens do their dirty work, correctly anticipating that once they were pointed to the “relevant statutory clauses” they would “go off from there”. And “go off” the Greens most certainly did, mounting a full-scale campaign against inclusion of wood waste in the RET that continues to this day.

The next set of papers are extracts from a powerpoint presentation that details the manner in which Tim Flato’s National Power and Babcock & Brown sought to gloss over its shaky financial footing, while pushing a self-serving strategy built on ever increasing wind power targets and subsidies.

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Again, pretty vague on the details, but the critical requirement for massive and endless subsidies in Babcock & Brown’s favour couldn’t be clearer.

If you have ever wondered how the greatest economic and environmental fraud of all time got started in Australia? Well, now you know.

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the Harsh Reality Of Wind Turbines, as an Electricity Source….

SA’s Wind Farm Fiasco: $Millions in Subsidies Thrown at GDF Suez to Reopen Mothballed Gas-Fired Power Plant

May 2015 SA

South Australia has the dubious honour of being referred to as “Australia’s wind farm capital”. That ‘accolade’ has brought with itrocketing power prices, an unstable grid and routine blackouts.

As to the latter, South Australians are learning to live with daily ‘load-shedding’, that even its premier academic institutions have to suffer, along with thousands of other businesses and households.

This telling little email from UniSA’s management was flicked to us by one of our SA operatives (who just happens to be an engineer):

email ML

The source of the “failure to the incoming electricity supply” is, as our engineer contact informs us, all about ‘grid instability’, caused by SA’s chaotic, intermittent and unreliable wind power supply.

Our contact also tells us that UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus (located north of Adelaide and south of Salisbury) has been experiencing frequent supply ‘interruptions’ and wholesale blackouts for months now. Air-conditioners no longer function; lectures get cancelled; the campus goes into “lock-down”; and the power surges and erratic supply have damaged electrical equipment and appliances, as well as distribution systems on campus.

The cost of repairing or replacing appliances, equipment or electrical systems – due to erratic wind power supplies (and the power surges, grid instability and consequent grid management chaos that comes with intermittent wind power) – is just another cost that gets brushed aside by one-eyed wind-worshippers. Wind power blackouts are, of course, a little harder for the wind-cultist to hide.

On 1 November last year, a sudden and total collapse in SA’s wind power output saw almost the entire State plunged into Stone Age darkness:110,000 homes and businesses were left without power for hours, with their owners in the dark and operators fuming.

SA 1 Nov 15

Business operators, like Port Pirie’s Nyrstar smelter went on the war path and dragged Labor’s Energy Minister, Tom Koutsantonis into a crisis meeting about average spot power prices that are now double those of neighbouring Victoria; and the fact that, no matter how much generators chisel out of householders and businesses, SA’s power supply will never again be called reliable or secure.

Having given up on the idea of ever having affordable power again, SA’s hapless Labor government has been reduced to throwing $millions of taxpayers dollars at the French owner of a mothballed Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power plant in an effort to ensure the lights stay on (at least for now).

Here’s the AFR’s Ben Potter (who’s fast gaining a grip on the scale and scope of the wind power fraud) detailing Labor’s costly, panicked – throw $millions of taxpayers’ money at it – response to SA’s wind farm fiasco.

Gas-fired power station bids for SA ‘low carbon’ contract
Australian Financial Review
Ben Potter
10 February 2016

Adelaide wants to become the world’s first carbon-free city, but the South Australian government is open to giving a gas-fired power station a “low carbon”ELECTRICITY CONTRACT.

The bid by GDF Suez, French owner of the partly mothballed Pelican Point gas power station, angered renewable energy advocates. The contract is worth about $50 million a year.

“If the government was serious about limiting carbon dioxide emissions, the tender would be limited to renewable energy projects only,” said Mark Parnell, Greens energy spokesman and leader in the SA Parliament.

GDF Suez confirmed Pelican Point was a bidder for the contract to supply up to 481 megawatt hours of low-carbon electricity a year to the government. Gas-fired power stations have roughly half the carbon dioxide emissions of coal-fired power stations, while wind and solar power have virtually zero emissions.

The SA Labor government sought expressions of interest for the contract in November as industry alarm mounted at soaring electricity prices in the struggling state.

Treasurer and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis this week emailed industry participants at a December 15 crisis meeting on the electricity market, saying the government aimed to ensure a smooth transition to a low-energy future by inviting a broad range of energy technologies to bid for the contract, and stipulating that bids should not harm energy security or push up prices.

Price spikes

The SA government has celebrated the state’s nation-leading penetration of wind and solar power. But large industrial energy users blame its spasmodic weather-dependent supply patterns for sharp spikes inSPOT MARKET prices and contract prices to levels far above neighbouring Victoria and NSW.

Although described as a “low-carbon electricity supply” contract, the document specified that electricity with an average CO2 emissions intensity of up to 400 kilograms per megawatt hour would be considered.

This is just above the level of a relatively efficient gas-fired power station like Pelican Point. GDF Suez withdrew half of Pelican Point’s 479-megawatt capacity two years ago as SA’s rapidly increasing share of renewable power pushed more costly “mid-market” suppliers to the sidelines.

This and other withdrawals left the stateVULNERABLE to sharp electricity price spikes to more than $2000 an hour when the wind didn’t blow and the sun didn’t shine, and heavily reliant on Victorian brown coal power delivered via high-transmission interconnectors.

“The state is primarily interested in wholesale electricity supply solutions which reduce the emissions associated with the state’s energy use. In the past, the state has sought proposals for GreenPower to achieve this objective,” the document says.

“In this process, however, the state is focused on solutions which maximise economic benefits for South Australia.”

Mr Parnell said Mr Koutsantonis “is very wedded to the future of gas, so it doesn’t surprise me that they are trying to place a gas-fired power station in the low-carbon category”.
Australian Financial Review

How delicious! The SA Green’s Muppet-in-Chief, Mark Parnell accusing Tom Koutsantonis of being “very wedded to the future of gas”, whereas Parnell is simply “wedded” to the delusion that a wholly weather dependent power source – that requires 100% of its capacity to beBACKED UP 100% of the time by conventional generation sources – provides for a reliable and secure electricity supply, delivered at an affordable price.

Always keen to express his sweaty-palmed, adolescent love of these things, Parnell has been known to bunk up in a tent underneath one of these things with SA’s other high-priest of the dwindling wind-worship cult, Crystal Brook’s favourite ‘fan-tasist’, Dave Clarke.

Throwing $50 million a year of South Australian taxpayers’ money at GDF Suez to keep its Pelican Point CCGT plant running around the clock, is like a dog chasing its tail.

GDF Suez stopped operating its Pelican Point plant as a direct consequence of the market perversion caused by the Federal Government’s Large-Scale RET.

Wind power is already heavily subsidised under the LRET, which, as we detail below, allows wind power outfits to flood the market when the wind is blowing, literally payingTHE GRID manager to take it – which knocks conventional generators out of the market, leaving them burning coal or gas (and incurring constant expense), but with little revenue (or no revenue whatsoever) to offset that cost (let alone turn a profit).

In short, wind power outfits collect the same amount of revenue, irrespective of theSPOT PRICE. However, conventional generators receive the prevailing price – and, unlike wind power outfits, do not receive any form of subsidy for what they dispatch: the market perversion driven by the LRET and subsidies for wind power is what has caused SA’s conventional generators to become unprofitable; and it’s that lack of profitability that led to Alinta’s decision to close its Port Augusta plant; and led to GDF Suez mothballing half of its Pelican Point CCGT plant 2 years ago (until now, due to the market distortions caused by wind power subsidies, its working half still only gets a return when wind power isn’t being given away).

The Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) struck between wind power outfits and retailers (which you’ll never see the likes of Infigen or Trustpower talk about publicly) are built around the massive stream of subsidies established by the Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) – which is directed to wind power generators in the form ofRENEWABLE ENERGY CERTIFICATES (RECs aka LGCs).

Under PPAs, the prices set guarantee a return to the generator of between $90 to $120 per MWh for every MWh delivered toTHE GRID.

In a company report last year, AGL (in its capacity as a wind power retailer) complained about the fact that it is bound to pay $112 per MWh under PPAs with wind power generators: these PPAs run for at least 15 years and many run for 25 years.

Wind power generators can and do (happily) dispatch power toTHE GRID at prices approaching zero – when the wind is blowing and wind power output is high; at night-time, when demand is low, wind power generators will even payTHE GRID manager to take their power (ie the dispatch price becomes negative)(see our post here). In recent times, wind power outfits in SA have been paying the grid operator up to $20 per MWh to take power with, quite obviously, no commercial value.

However, the retailer still pays the wind power generator the same guaranteed price under their PPA – irrespective of the dispatch price: in AGL’s case, $112 per MWh.

PPA prices are 3-4 times the cost that retailers pay to conventional generators; retailers can purchase coal-fired power from Victoria’s Latrobe Valley for around $25-35 per MWh.

Underlying the PPA is the value of the RECs that are issued to wind power generators and handed to retailers as part of the deal.

The issue and transfer of RECs under the LRET sets up the greatest government mandated wealth transfer seen in Australian history: the LRET is – without a shadow of a doubt – the largest industry subsidy scheme in the history of the Commonwealth. That transfer – which comes at the expense of the poorest and mostVULNERABLE; struggling businesses; and cash-strapped families – is effected by the issue, sale and surrender of RECs. As Origin Energy chief executive Grant King correctly puts it:

“[T]he subsidy is the REC, and the REC certificate is acquitted at the retail level and is included in the retail price of electricity”.

It’s power consumers that get lumped with the “retail price of electricity” and, therefore, the cost of the REC Subsidy paid to wind power outfits. The REC Tax/Subsidy has already added $9 billion to Australian power bills, so far.

Between 2015 and 2031, the mandatory LRET requires power consumers to pay the cost of issuing 490 million RECs to wind power generators. With the REC price currently $82 – and tipped toTRADE around $93 as retailers get hit with the shortfall penalty set by the LRET – the wealth transfer from power consumers to the Federal Government (as retailer penalties) and/or to the wind industry (as REC Subsidy) will be somewhere between $40 billion and $50 billion, over the next 16 years:

What Kills the Australian Wind Industry: A $45 Billion Federal Power Tax

With more wind power capacity per head than any other State, South Australians are going to be lumbered with a disproportionate share of the ludicrous cost of the REC Tax/Subsidy, set by the LRET.

A cost that is already forcing major employers like Nyrstar to consider shutting up shop – with the immediate loss of 750 jobs in economically depressed Port Pirie. And that has already led to more than 50,000 SA households suffering along without any power at all (see our post here).

Now, adding State-subsidy-insult to Federal-subsidy-injury, South Australians are about to be Royally screwed twice: once by being forced to throw $93 per MWh (in REC Tax/Subsidy) at wind power outfits (whenever the wind blows); and, on top of that, being forced to stump up $50 million a year to cover the fact that the former will never amount to a meaningful power source. And then there is all of the commercial and domestic electrical repairs required as a result of such a high penetration of intermittent power sources.

South Australians have Premier Jay Weatherill and his merry band of Labor lunatics to thank for, what can only be described as, an ‘energy debacle’.

Notwithstanding the scale and scope of SA’s brewing economic disaster – and its latest move to subsidise its way out of trouble – Labor still seems wedded to pushing the wind industry’s barrow.

Having directed planning panels all over the State to keeprubberstamping wind farm applications – and otherwise encouraging more of these things to be speared into the heart of thriving rural communities; like those situated in the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges and on Yorke Peninsula – Labor seems simply incapable of retreating from the brink.

Albert Einstein’s definition of “insanity” springs to mind: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Backing the likes of New Zealand’s Trustpower or the cowboys behindSenvion (aka REPower, aka Suzlon) in their bids to carpet South Australia’s most agriculturally productive regions with hundreds more of these whirling wonders beggars belief.

What South Australians need is reliable, secure and affordable power – of the kind to be delivered by GDF Suez’s Pelican Point CCGT plant, that – but for the power market perversion caused by the LRET’s massive REC Tax/Subsidy for wind power – would have been happily delivered without costing SA’s taxpayers a red cent.

The very last thing South Australians need is any more of the same.

Not that Weatherill, Koutsantonis & Co will admit it publicly, but the deal done with GDF Suez (using other peoples’ money) to guarantee the 24/365 availability of 479MW of dispatchable (ie ‘controllable’) power, is a monumental concession that SA’s too-long held dream of being powered by the wind has just gone up in smoke.

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When Windweasel Lies Meet Reality!

Wind Power Will Never Keep the Lights On: Propaganda Obscures Truth About Where Your Power Really Comes From

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Claims and delivery are a gulf apart, when what’s put up by the wind and solar crowd is measured up against the hard cold facts that reside in ‘reality-land’.

With every new wind farm proposal we’re told how this operation would ‘power’ a hundred thousand homes (for ‘free’) – although these days it’s a line that accompanies moaning by wind power outfits about their inability to obtain power purchase agreements with retailers and, therefore, finance from banks to carry out their threats.

This story highlights the fact that talk about a wind and solar powered future is just that: ‘talk’.

The truth about our electricity supply is too hot to handle
The Australian (BusinessSpectator)
Keith Orchison
26 January 2016

How ordinary Australians are kept informed about arguably their most essential service, electricity supply, is a big issue for companies and competing lobbyists in a game where literally many billions of dollars are at stake.

If it is true that most Australians under 30 get their news from social media rather than newspapers or TV and radio — so claimed by Graham Richardson in a recent op-ed in The Australian — then what appears in the traditional media is no longer the dominant source of public information. (I’m from an era where too many PR types used to present their ‘success’ to their employers via column inches published in newspapers.)

We have had an example of the modern idiom in recent days with a minor hullabaloo about the promise of large-scale solar power based on the official commissioning of the two AGL Energy PV farms near Broken Hill, but not a syllable anywhere about the single biggest issue of the same moment for all electricity consumers: how supply has been sustained as a nasty heatwave baked the east coast.

That our community needs electricity big-time to cope with 40-degree temperatures and high humidity is beyond debate. For day after recent day, the east coast load neared or exceeded 30,000 megawatts, something it hasn’t done often in the past five years as prices (and, in the case of manufacturers, other factors too) pulled down demand.

That the delivery system, so often derided in the recent past as ‘gold-plated’, stood up well to the pressure is obvious. The dozen or so failures of supply (affecting 70,000 homes in one case) were attributable to big storms that ripped down houses and trees as well as poles and wires.

That the network operators have thrown emergency repair crews into the fray to bring back supply as quickly as possible has received little media mention. It’s a given — not that this will stop the networks getting kicked about their charges when the next revenue row arises.

For me, it is particularly notable and regrettable that what is wholly missing from mainstream media coverage is the breakdown of how the much-needed electrons have been generated.

This is not secret engineers’ business. The information is readily available — it’s just not passed on, even briefly, to the hot and sweaty public.

Take New South Wales as an example. It’s home to the largest number of consumers, whether we are talking households (just on three million, or roughly a third of the national total) or business (more than 400,000, also a third of the total).

NSW plus Victoria and Queensland account for roughly 90 per cent of national electricity customers, and on a typical midafternoon in January the trio’s consumers were getting some 73 per cent of their power (by committed capacity) from black and brown coal, with gas turbines accounting for another 11.8 per cent. Hydro-electric capacity (a critical resilience factor on high-demand days for NSW and Victoria) was contributing another 7.5 per cent.

In this situation, the green activists’ love children, wind and solar, accounted for 7.5 per cent of operating capacity, of which rooftop PVs met 5 per cent, a testament to the extra-ordinary emergence of household self-generation in response to public aggravation over retail power bill spikes and over-the-top political largesse (since cut back sharply), demonstrating how fast a fad can become a useful accessory in our affluent society.

Coming back to NSW specifically, at the peak of one of the heatwave days, the state’s generation load pushed past 12,200 megawatts at noon: met by almost 7,500 MW of black coal plant, 1,300 MW of gas plant, almost 2,500 MW of hydro-electric plant, 520 MW of wind power and nearly as much (428 MW) of rooftop solar plus 50 MW of large-scale solar. (The usefulness of rooftop solar, of course, fell away at dusk while, if anything, the heatwave’s grip was being felt more acutely by householders.)

It’s terribly easy to get tendentious about this stuff — you can find the types who do so hard at work all over the media space — but the real bottom line is twofold.

First, the biggest state in the Commonwealth (population, commercially, industrially, economically) would be stuffed without conventional power generation (coal, gas, hydro).

Second, replacing the coal elements of this reliable supply system is a great deal easier to talk about than to do.

Take the two Broken Hill solar farms, officially commissioned with federal and state ministers in attendance and lots of green trumpet blowing. Between them, their 155 megawatts of capacity is expected to produce 259,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually.

By comparison, AGL Energy’s 2,640 MW Bayswater black coal operation sends out 15,000 gigawatt hours a year.

One gigawatt hour is equal to a thousand megawatt hours.

It would take 58 sets of the Broken Hill solar twins to match Bayswater’s output. All the coal plants in the state deliver more than 50,000 GWh a year.

Without doubt, we are in a power transition period where new technology will play an increasing role. To what extent, over what time period and at what cost (in terms of capital outlays, taxpayer subsidies and consumer bills) is a very big question.

An even bigger one, perhaps, is just how much damage can be done to a supply system we take from granted via the posturing of ideologists and rent-seekers, the naivety of politicians and the energy illiteracy of the community?

More than 50 years ago I went to a high school that had as its motto ‘festina lente’ — Latin for “make haste slowly.” Perhaps it should be carved above the entry of our parliament houses and painted on the office walls of ministers (alongside ‘it’s the economy, stupid’).

Keith Orchison, director of consultancy Coolibah Pty Ltd and editor of OnPower, was chief executive of two national energy associations from 1980 to 2003. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the energy industry in 2004.
The Australian

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The Wind Turbine Disaster in South Australia…

Wind Power Disaster: South Australians Grapple with Rocketing Power Prices, an Unstable Grid & Rolling Blackouts

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In Australia’s wind farm capital, South Australia the terms ‘chaos’ and ‘crisis’ are used to describe the aftermath of an energy policy ‘designed’ on desktops by dimwits, who haven’t got the faintest clue about how power generation works (or much else, for that matter).

Wind power collapses and blackouts are now part of South Australian life: Wind Industry’s Armageddon: Wind Farm Output Collapse Leaves 110,000 South Australian Homes & Businesses Powerless

The Genesis of the wind power debacle was pretty well captured by Leo Smith in our recent post – Why Weather Dependent, Intermittent & Unreliable Wind Power is as ‘Useful as a Chocolate Teapot’ – and summed up as follows:

There is, above all, one salient feature that emerges across the board. Sanity and rationalism have been cast aside, and the whole arena is now a political and ideological battleground whose main protagonists understand little or nothing about the industry they seek to bend to suit their ideological (and possibly commercial) needs.

In short the world is full of people who have an opinion about power generation, who understand nothing about how it actually works or even what actually works. …

Rational scientific analysis shows conclusively that renewable energy cannot ever deliver on the very basis that it has been sold to the public. It’s not cheap, it’s anything but free, it’s not environmentally desirable, it offers no energy security, and it cannot exist in isolation from other technologies that are either even more costly than it itself is or have grave risks associated with them.

What we find when we analyse the intermittency problem, is that intermittent non-dispatchable power actually carries very little value at all. What society requires, is dispatchable power – power that can be on tap when it’s required, and turned off when it’s not, and it requires in addition a large component of cheap baseload power, that never needs to be turned off. What it does not require is wilful power that’s here today and gone tomorrow.

Just like SA’s 17 wind farms’ ‘efforts’ during May 2015:

May 2015 SA

And it’s the erratic delivery of ludicrously expensive wind power ($110 per MWh versus $40 per MWh for the reliable stuff) – and the insane cost of paying operators of highly inefficient Open Cycle Gas Turbines that their owners refuse to fire up until the spot price rockets to over $2,000 per MWh, when the wind drops – that has journos using ‘chaos’ to describe SA’s power market and ‘crisis’ to describe the economic aftermath meted out on struggling business, like Nyrstar’s Port Pirie Smelter.

The thing that kills the wind industry is the cost of attempting to integrate a wholly weather dependent power source (abandoned in the 19th Century, for obvious reasons) into a modern power system – where that cost, as it manifests in ever-rocketing power prices, simply can’t be hidden from the voting public.

Here’s another take on the South Australian wind power debacle from Richard Blandy (Adjunct Professor of Economics in the School of Management at the University of South Australia Business School) who – unlike the hacks at Adelaide’s The Advertiser – has a very solid head for numbers, due his background in that dismal science.

Oh, and to help illustrate Richard’s piece we’ve added a few pics courtesy of the boys over at Aneroid Energy – showing the output from SA’s 17 wind farms (with a notional capacity of 1,477MW) on the occasions referred to.

Crunching the numbers on SA’s high electricity prices
InDaily
Richard Blandy
19 January 2016

South Australia has set its energy sights on a renewable future but, asks Richard Blandy, at what cost?

On Christmas Day, according to the average price tables published by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the Regional Reference Price (average spot price) for a megawatt hour of electricity in South Australia was $91.67.

SA 25 Dec 15

The corresponding prices in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland were $37.33, $20.38 and $36.20.

SA DEC 15

The average daily spot price for a megawatt hour of electricity in December 2015 was $62.19 in South Australia, $43.37 in New South Wales, $46.84 in Victoria and $42.08 in Queensland.

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On December 17, the average spot price for a megawatt hour of electricity in South Australia was $259.59, while on December 26 it was only $5.06.

SA 26 Dec 15

It is clear that South Australia has the most expensive and most variable power on the eastern states grid.

The reason for the high (and extremely variable) price of electricity in South Australia is our very high dependence on solar and wind generation compared with the other states.

This results from the rapid expansion of renewable energy generation in South Australia.

According to a Deloitte Access Economics study recently released by the Energy Supply Association of Australia, South Australia’s solar and wind generation capacity per head of population is already more than three times that of any other state or territory.

A new Climate Change Strategy for South Australia was released by Premier Jay Weatherill and Minister for Climate Change, Ian Hunter, on November 29. The strategy was conveniently (if implausibly) rebadged as an economic development initiative.

In it they said to realise the benefits, we need to be bold. That is why we have said that by 2050 our state will have net zero emissions. We want to send a clear signal to businesses around the world: if you want to innovate, if you want to perfect low carbon technologies necessary to halt global warming – come to South Australia.

South Australia can be a low carbon electricity powerhouse. We have the ability to produce almost all of our energy from clean and renewable sources and export this energy to the rest of Australia.

But people want electricity to be available when they want it, and for it to stay on, with a steady current, while they want it – not just when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining.

The trouble with solar and wind generation is that it only generates electricity intermittently. Covering this intermittency is expensive in terms of idling standby plant.

Generators with the required flexibility (peaking generators using natural gas) produce expensive electricity, but are becoming more and more needed as the penetration of wind and solar in our energy generation mix increases. This is why electricity prices have risen in South Australia.

Wind farms and other renewable-energy generators also undercut the prices offered by efficient, base-load, coal and gas power plants, because they receive guaranteed, non-market, returns from selling Generation Certificates to electricity retailers under the Commonwealth Government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) Scheme.

Under RET, electricity retailers must buy enough certificates to demonstrate their compliance with the RET scheme’s ever-increasing annual targets.

The revenue earned by each wind farm from the sale of certificates is additional to the revenue received, if any, from its sale of electricity to the electricity market.

The yearly RET targets imply significant annual investment in wind farms, while the sale of certificates to retailers is designed to guarantee a return to wind farms sufficient to justify the required investment, irrespective of the return they receive from actually selling electricity to the market. Well done, wind farm lobby.

If sales of electricity are growing only slowly (as they are in South Australia’s slow-growing economy), the subsidised market share of wind farms and other renewables will rise and the sale of electricity from conventional base-load power plants will fall.

At some point the coal and gas-fired conventional power plants will become unable to contribute towards their fixed costs, and they will go out of business. This is what has happened in South Australia.

But this is the whole point of renewables in climate change terms – to knock off CO2-producing coal and gas-fired power plants, thereby helping to save the planet from climate change.

The Port Augusta power station is closing because of Commonwealth and South Australian Government policy to expand renewable energy generation. This is not an accident. To save the planet, it was always intended to have this effect, but maybe not next year. Leigh Creek is shutting down as an unintended consequence.

Pelican Point has been mothballed and Torrens Island is also slated for closure.

If the demand for electricity is low – on a public holiday, say – while the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, the price of electricity in South Australia will be low. Conventional generators will make losses, while the market losses of the renewable generators will be covered by their sale of Generation Certificates.

If the demand for electricity is high – a heat wave on a working day, say – and it is a still, overcast day, the price of electricity in South Australia will be high, because it will be mostly produced by high-cost, back-up, peaking generators.

The high cost of maintaining back-up generation capacity (sufficient, essentially, to duplicate the generation capacity of the renewables) means that the average price of electricity produced in a system dominated by renewables will always be expensive without strong interconnection, such as in Denmark, to large, inexpensive, electricity-producing regions nearby, that produce most of their electricity from coal, gas or nuclear sources.

We are not in that fortunate position. According to Deloitte, South Australia’s interconnectors with Victoria are able to supply only 23 per cent of South Australia’s peak demand (although their capacity is presently being increased).

According to a report in the Australian Financial Review in December, South Australian Treasurer and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis called a meeting of energy users and suppliers to deal with the sharp rises and falls in wholesale electricity prices that, in particular, threaten the economics of the lead and zinc smelter at Port Pirie operated by Dutch company, Nyrstar.

South Australian businesses face electricity prices in 2016-18 of between $87 and $90 per megawatt hour, compared with $37-$41 in Victoria and $43-$48 in New South Wales.

South Australian irrigators are said to be facing electricity price increases of more than 100 per cent next year.

According to the AFR, forward electricity prices in South Australia are far higher than when Nyrstar signed up in May.

Further, the threat of disruption of supplies if the inter-connectors to Victoria fail, or become inadequate to meet the demand for electricity in South Australia on peak days, are of understandable concern to the company. Nyrstar is scheduled to start operations in mid-2016.

Options for the Government to stop Nyrstar quitting all look expensive.

In the short run, the Government’s main option could be to cover the extra anticipated cost of electricity and the cost of any supply disruptions with a further subsidy to Nyrstar over and above the $291 million it has already promised. This subsidy could be substantial.

In the long run, the Government’s main option could be to pay for even more interconnection to Victorian, New South Wales or Queensland coal or gas-powered electricity generators.

It will have to do so to protect the stability of the electricity grid in South Australia soon, anyway, as well as to put a cap on wholesale prices (the price of base load electricity interstate plus the cost of shipping it here through an interconnector). This will also be costly.

The high price of electricity in South Australia is eating away at our economic competitiveness. The probability that we will become, sometime in the distant future, a “low carbon electricity powerhouse” looks extremely low.

As often happens with Government initiatives in South Australia, significant Government subsidies are likely to be offered to appropriate companies to locate here, so that the Government’s aspirations appear to be vindicated.

Richard Blandy is an Adjunct Professor of Economics in the Business School at the University of South Australia.
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