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.

turbine fire 6

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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

mythbusters2

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

turbine fire Trent-Wind-Farm

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.

SA 17 Dec 15

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.
In Daily

nyrstar port pirie

Wind Pushers Losing Popularity!

Wind Industry Still Wailing About ‘Uncertainty’ as Construction Finance ‘Drought’ Hits

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Wind power outfits have now cottoned on to the fact (slow learners that they are) that Australia’s big power retailers have turned their backs on the wind to face the Sun, instead.

The former second-hand car salesmen that front the wind industry are still coming to grips with the recalcitrance of commercial retailers (we don’t count the ACT Government) who continue to refuse entering Power Purchase Agreements with wind power outfits (holding that stance since November 2012).

The big operators have absolutely no interest in wind power; and every interest in killing off the Large-Scale RET that created, and for the time being sustains, the wind industry.

As pointed out previously, the retailers’ switch to large-scale solar is a canny, but fleeting move – designed to avoid the shortfall penalty for the few years it takes for the LRET to collapse; as the political and economic toxicity of the policy escalates over the next year or two.

It is, after all, a pointless $3 billion a year power tax that runs until 2031 – for no other reason than to subsidise the production of insanely expensive and wholly unreliable wind power; at a time when Australia’s grid is swamped with oodles of the reliable, secure and affordable stuff.

Without PPAs with retailers, wind power outfits haven’t a hope in hell of obtaining bank finance to build any new wind farm capacity, as this ‘sackcloth and ashes’ piece from the SMH confirms.

Yass Valley Wind Farm recommended for approval, but retailer’s strike persists
Sydney Morning Herald
Lucy Cormack
4 February 2016

Financiers are yet to gain confidence that the legislative underpinning for renewable energy projects is going to be stable.

The state government has recommended approval for what could be one of Australia’s biggest wind farms, but continued uncertainty in the renewables sector may see the project added to the 6000 megawatt-strong “pile of wind farms” currently approved, but stalled, industry figures say.

The recommendation for approval of the Epuron Yass Valley Wind Farm by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment clears the way for the Planning and Assessment Commission to make its final decision on the wind farm.

While industry figures say the news is positive, it does not mean the wind farm will be built.

“This approval just adds to the 6000-megawatt pile of wind farms currently stalled:” Ric Brazzale, managing director …

“This approval just adds to the 6000-megawatt pile of wind farms currently stalled:” Ric Brazzale, managing director Green Energy Trading said of the Yass Valley Wind Farm.

“We’ve lost count of these announcements,” said Ric Brazzale, managing director of Green Energy Trading.

“It’s an important part of the process, but this approval just adds to the 6000-megawatt pile of wind farms currently stalled.”

The battle for new projects is obtaining finance and power purchase agreements: contracts with energy companies to sell electricity and large-scale generation certificates (LGCs).

Large-scale generation certificates are used by Renewable Energy Target-liable entities to meet compliance obligations based on the volume of electricity they purchase each year.

Mr Brazzale said the difficulty in sealing power purchase agreements is tied to the long-embattled context of renewable energy in Australia.

“They can’t raise finance because banks and financiers don’t want to go anywhere near these contracts unless they are contracted with energy retailers,” he said.

“So, why don’t financiers do it? The reason is, they are yet to gain confidence that the legislative underpinning is going to be stable,” he said. “We’ve heard from Greg Hunt and that helps, but if you want retailers and financiers to change, you need the Prime Minister to come out and say unequivocally, ‘We are not going to reduce the target.’”

Solar Council chief executive John Grimes agreed that any “drought” in renewables investment will only be reversed with increased positive sentiment from the government.

“Large scale projects are all built on policy, stability and confidence, but the entire renewable energy market has been massively disrupted by the federal government’s review and slashing of the Renewable Energy Target.”

Mr Grimes’ concern is that, despite having a new Prime Minister, “nothing has changed”.

“No moves have been made by the federal government to ensure that certainty and policy stability is returned to the sector,” he said. “It’s a double-edged sword. If power companies don’t build projects they will be slugged with a charge equivalent, which has a real post-tax value of $93 per large-scale generation certificate.”

Mr Grimes said liable entities are using that fact to go back to the government and say they cannot build the projects to meet the target in the time permitted.

“Their argument will be, if the federal government doesn’t slash the Renewable Energy Target again, then that price will be passed through to consumers and everyone will be paying for capacity that was never built,” he said.

At its proposed capacity of 124 turbines, the Yass Valley Wind Farm would have the capacity to power more than 130,000 homes each year, however the government’s recommendation suggests a significant reduction in the project’s scale, down to 79 turbines.

Epuron executive director Martin Poole said despite the recommended reduction “attitudes everywhere have improved” towards wind energy, since Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took the leadership.

“It is important that NSW demonstrates its commitment to maximising the local jobs and expertise that flow from the transition to a cleaner electricity sector.”

Mr Brazzale estimates that processes contracting for large-scale generation certificates in the ACT, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria suggest “there are probably more than 1000 megawatts of projects that could be committed over the next year or so.”

Despite being enough to power around 430,000 homes annually, Mr Brazzale said that figure is nowhere near enough to meet the large-scale renewable energy target by 2018.

“We need four times that level to ensure we meet the 2018 target, which obviously we’re not going to achieve. That’s why the LGC price is high, because it’s reflecting that the market is not going to meet the target.”
Sydney Morning Herald

The usual fawning starry-eyed ‘analysis’ from Fairfax there – with bunkum about a pie-in-the-sky wind farm one day “powering more than 130,000 homes”. Unless those households are prepared to sit freezing or boiling in the dark around 70% of the time, they will, in fact, be ‘powered’ by coal, gas and hydro (in that order).

That journalists are still pushing that kind of wind industry propaganda in 2016 is not just dumb, it’s lazy. A quick glance at Aneroid Energy debunks that myth. Here’s SA’s 17 wind farms (notional capacity of 1,477MW) ‘powering’ not so much as a kettle on 3 May 2015:

3 May 2015 SA

The other line that escapes any sensible criticism from Fairfax is what John Grimes says about the looming and massive cost of the LRET

“It’s a double-edged sword. If power companies don’t build projects they will be slugged with a charge equivalent, which has a real post-tax value of $93 per large-scale generation certificate.” …

“Their argument will be, if the federal government doesn’t slash the Renewable Energy Target again, then that price will be passed through to consumers and everyone will be paying for capacity that was never built,”

The cost of the LRET to power consumers will actually be lower if further wind power capacity is NOT built, than if it is. Retailers will get hit with the shortfall penalty (what Grimes calls ‘a charge equivalent’) and the cost of the REC – from here, the combined cost of which will exceed $3 billion a year, all recovered as a Federal Tax on all power consumers:

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

What Grimes leaves out, of course, is that the wind power capacity that Epuron, Infigen & Co are so desperate to build (in order to keep their Ponzi scheme from collapsing, as it has with Pacific Hydro) – will cost at least a further $80-100 billion, in terms of extra turbines and the duplicated network costs needed to hook them up to the grid: all requiring fat returns to investors; costs and returns that can only be recouped through escalating power bills:

Ian Macfarlane, Greg Hunt & Australia’s Wind Power Debacle: is it Dumb and Dumber 2, or Liar Liar?

In the post above we looked at the additional costs of building the wind power capacity needed to avoid the shortfall penalty – including the $30 billion or so needed to build a duplicated transmission grid.

That is, a network largely, if not exclusively, devoted to sending wind power output from remote, rural locations to urban population centres (where the demand is) that will only ever carry meaningful output 30-35% of the time, at best. The balance of the time, networks devoted to carrying wind power will carry nothing – for lengthy periods there will be no return on the capital cost – the lines will simply lay idle until the wind picks up.

The fact that there is no grid capacity available to take wind power from remote locations was pointed to by GE boss, Peter Cowling in this article, as one of the key reasons that there will be no new wind farms built in Australia (see our post here).

But let’s return to wailing about the requirement for policy ‘certainty’. What that wailing is really about, is a plea for the Federal government (read ‘taxpayer and power consumer’) to underwrite a politically toxic policy, that has already been slashed from an ultimate annual target of 41,000GWh to 33,000GWh, for precisely that reason.

In 2015, faced with the fact that the target could never be met, both Labor and the Coalition were forced to cut the target before the shortfall penalty inevitably took effect. But that was simply to stall the LRET’s ultimate collapse: the same factors Epuron moan about above are still in play. There will be no increase in wind power capacity; the shortfall penalty will apply; and the Federal government will be forced to cut the target, once again.

It’s the fact it was cut once that has bankers and retailers refusing to lend or sign PPAs. And, as with any ‘business’ that relies for its very existence on a piece of policy, what the government once did, can be just as easily undone – in full.

What kills the LRET – and the wind industry with it – is the same set of forces that led to the demise of the Australian wool industry. The lessons and parallels drawn from the implosion of its Federally mandated subsidy scheme during the 1990s – all but killing the industry and costing growers and taxpayers tens of billions of dollars – are worth repeating.

The wool industry’s “cause of death” was the Federally backed Reserve Price Support scheme (RPS), which set a guaranteed minimum price for all Australian wool.

A little background on the RPS

For over 150 years, Australia happily rode on the sheep’s back: until the 1970s the wool industry was, for the Australian economy, the “goose that laid the golden egg”; textile manufacturers from all over the world clamoured for the fibre; which was, for most of that time, the largest single commodity export by value; Australia produces over 80% of the world’s apparel wool. However, as fashions changed (the three-piece wool suit became, well, so “yesterday”) and new synthetics began to eat into its market share, the dominance of Australian apparel wool was no longer a certainty.

Against the backdrop of increasing competition, for the wool industry there was always the perennial issue, not only of fluctuating demand, but also of wildly fluctuating swings in production. Dorothea McKellar’s land of “droughts and flooding rains” meant that a few years of meagre production (and favourable, and even phenomenal, wool prices) would be soon eclipsed by sheds and wool stores overflowing with fibre ready for market (sending prices and woolgrower profits plummeting).

The response to these (often climate driven) marketing “swings and roundabouts”, was the establishment of the Australian Wool Corporation (AWC) and the RPS in 1973.

The RPS would set a minimum price for all types of wool, guaranteeing woolgrowers a minimum return; such that if supply exceeded demand, the AWC would purchase any wool being offered, if it failed to reach the minimum price set (referred to as the “floor price”).

Wool being offered at auction that failed to meet the floor price was purchased by the AWC and “stockpiled” (ie stored), until such time as either supply fell or demand conditions improved; at which point the AWC would offer stockpiled wool to the trade. The aim being the smooth and more orderly marketing of wool over the supply and demand cycle; with higher average returns to growers; and less risk for buyers and sellers along the way.

The scheme worked swimmingly (as designed and intended) until the late 1980s.

The reserve price set under the RPS was fixed in Australian dollar terms. However, with the float of the Australian dollar in 1983 (resulting in a massive 40% depreciation of the dollar between February 1985 and August 1986), maintaining the reserve price without reference to the terms of trade and fluctuations in trading currencies (particularly the US dollar) set the scheme up for a spectacular failure; simply because what goes down can just as easily go up.

During the 1980s, there was a solid increase in demand for wool, driven by demand from the USSR, a then fast growing Japan, buoyant Europeans, and a newly emergent China, as a textile manufacturer and consumer. However, that surge in demand occurred in the context of an Australian dollar trading in a range around US$0.55-75.

During the 1980s, under pressure from wool grower lobby groups, the floor price was continually increased: from 1986 to July 1988 the floor price jumped 71% to 870 cents per kilogram.

That did not, in itself, create any problems: a general surge in demand, relatively low production and a plummeting Australian dollar generated auction room sale prices well above the rising floor price, which reached their zenith in April 1988: the market indicator peaked at 1269 cents per kg, and the market continued its bull run for most of that year, well above the 870 floor price set in July.

However, as international economic conditions worsened, Australian interest rates soared (the consequence of Paul Keating’s “recession that we had to have”) and the value of the Australian dollar with it (hitting US$0.80 by early 1990), the market indicator headed south and, over the next few years, the AWC was forced to purchase over 80% of the Australian wool clip at the 870 cent per kg floor price. Adding to the AWC’s difficulties was a massive surge in production; driven by growers responding to the high and “guaranteed” floor price; and a run of exceptional growing seasons (1989 being a standout across Australia). Production went from 727 million kg in 1983/84 to over 1 billion kg in 1990/91.

Despite worsening market conditions, the AWC, under pressure from wool grower lobby groups, was forced to maintain the 870 cent per kilogram floor price.

However, from around August 1989, international wool buyers simply sat on their hands in auction sale rooms (in May 1990 the AWC bought 87.5% of the offering); and waited for the RPS to implode.

Knowing that the system was unsustainable, the last thing that buyers wanted was to be caught with wool purchased at prices above the floor price which, when the floor price was cut or collapsed, would immediately be worth less than what they had paid for it. Moreover, traders were dumping stock as fast as they could to avoid the risk of a collapse in the RPS and, therefore, a collapse in the price of any wool they happened to hold.

The RPS was ultimately backed by the Federal government. With the buying trade sitting on their hands, those responsible for maintaining the floor price ended up in a staring competition, the only question was, who would blink first: the AWC (or, rather, the government underwriting the RPS); or the buyers?

With the AWC purchasing millions of bales of wool at the floor price the cost of supporting the RPS was running into the billions of dollars: primarily the support came from a grower levy on sales, but, at the point which that soon became insufficient to support the RPS (despite upping the levy from 8% to 25%), support came from $billions in mounting government debt; the buyers had no reason to blink.

Instead, in May 1990, the government announced its decision to retreat to a new floor price of 700 cents per kilogram, and directed the AWC to fight on in support of the reduced floor price. The Minister for Primary Industry, John Kerin boldly asserting that the 700 cent floor price was “immutable, the floor price will not be reduced”.

But, having blinked once, the buyers largely continued to sit on their hands and simply waited for the government to blink again. The stockpile continued to balloon; and with it government debt: by February 1991 the stockpile reached 4.77 million bales (equivalent to a full year’s production); the accrued government debt stood at $2.8 billion; and the cost of storing the stockpile was over $1 million a day.

Faced with the inevitable, the government blinked, again: John Kerin was forced to eat his words about the floor price being “immutable”; on 11 February 1991, announcing the suspension of the floor price. The RPS had totally collapsed; the buyers had won.

The wool industry’s saga is beautifully, if tragically, told by Charles Massy in “Breaking the Sheep’s Back” (2011, UQP), which should be required reading for any of our political betters pretending to know more than the market (eg, the power market).

Which brings us to the lessons and parallels.

The LRET effectively sets the price for RECs: the minimum price is meant to be set by the shortfall charge of $65 per MWh (rising to $93 when account is given to the tax benefit), as the penalty begins to apply on the shortfall (as detailed above). That equation is based on an ultimate 33,000 GWh target.

In the event that the cost of the shortfall charge was reduced, there would be a commensurate fall in the REC price. Likewise, if the LRET target was further reduced: the total number of MWhs which would then attract the shortfall charge if RECs were not purchased would fall too; also resulting in a fall in the REC price.

In addition, any reduction in the LRET would simply result in a reduction in the demand for RECs overall: fewer RECs would need to be purchased and surrendered during the life of the LRET; again, resulting in a fall in the REC price. Of course, were the LRET to be scrapped in its entirety, RECs would become utterly worthless.

The retailers, are alive to all of this, hence their reluctance to enter PPAs for the purpose of purchasing RECs; agreements which run for a minimum of 15 years.

In December 2014, Ian “Macca” Macfarlane and his youthful ward, Greg Hunt started running around pushing for a target of 27,000 GWh; and their boss, Tony Abbott made clear that he wanted to kill it outright. There followed overtures from the Labor opposition pitching for a target around 35,000 GWh.

Whether they knew it or not – with their public debate on what an amended target should be – in the staring competition with retailers – these boys blinked.

Faced with the inevitable political furore that will erupt when power consumers (ie, voters) realise they are being whacked with the full cost (and some) of the shortfall charge (being nothing more than a “stealth tax” to be recovered by retailers via their power bills), the pressure will mount on both sides of politics to slash the LRET – once again.

That both Labor and the Coalition have already blinked (in obvious recognition of the brewing political storm in power punter land over the inevitable imposition of the shortfall charge) is not lost on the likes of Grant King from Origin, and all of Australia’s other electricity retailers.

And for retail power buyers the choice of sticking with permanent recalcitrance has been made even easier: with the previous PM Tony Abbot making it plain that he would have cut the LRET even harder, were it not for a hostile Senate; and Labor’s Bill Shorten pushing for an entirely ludicrous 50% LRET – that would require a further 10,000 of these things to be speared all over Australia’s rural heartland. Where there was once ‘bipartisan’ support for these things, the major parties are diametrically opposed.

Grant King

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With the politics of the LRET already on the nose, like wool buyers sitting on their hands in sale rooms during 1990, waiting for the floor price to collapse, electricity retailers need only sit back and wait for the whole LRET scheme to implode.

Like wool buyers refusing to buy above the floor price and carry stock with the risk of the RPS collapsing, why would electricity retailers sign up for 15 year long PPAs with wind power outfits in order to purchase a stream of RECs over that period, knowing the value of those certificates depends entirely upon a scheme which is both economically and politically unsustainable?

However, the similarities between the wool market and the market for wind power end right about there.

There is, and always was, a natural market for Australian wool; the only issue during the late 80s and early 90s was the price that had to be paid by buyers to beat the floor price, set artificially under the RPS.

Wind power has no such market.

Available only in fits and spurts, and at crazy, random intervals, at a price which is 3-4 times that of conventional generation, retailers have no incentive to purchase it.

In the absence of the threat of the $65 per MWh fine (the stick), coupled with the promise of pocketing $93 as a subsidy in the form of a REC (the carrot), electricity retailers would not touch wind power with a barge pole: it simply has no commercial value.

Moreover, with an abundance of conventional generation capacity in Australia at present, retailers are very much in a “buyers’ market”.

Overcapacity, coupled with shrinking demand (thanks to policies like the LRET that are killing mineral processors, manufacturing and industry) means that retailers can expect to see wholesale prices decline over the next few years, at least. And, for the first time in almost 20 years, a sharply declining Australian economy is a fast looming reality: unemployed households have an even tougher time paying rocketing power bills.

With those fundamentals in mind, electricity retailers will simply opt to pay the shortfall charge and recover it from power consumers, knowing that that situation will not last for very long.

Sooner or later, the Federal government (whichever side is in power) will have to face an electorate furious at the fact that their power bills have gone through the roof, as a result of a policy that achieved absolutely nothing.

Current PM, Malcolm Turnbull might mouth platitudes about ‘renewables’ and ‘innovation’, but his chances of leading the Coalition to a second term in power are tied to fundamental ‘mum and dad’ policies like electricity costs.

Power prices matter; and in a battle between Australia’s Big 3 Retailers and the LRET, STT’s money is firmly on commercial self-interest.

STT hears that the big retailers plan to exhaust the pile of RECs that they’re sitting on at present, while building a few large-scale solar power facilities, in order to obtain the RECs needed to avoid the shortfall charge; and to wait for the politics to turn gangrenous. As soon as the LRET gets scrapped, the plan is to sell the panels back into the residential roof-top market.

The cost of the LRET – and all that comes with it – to retail customers is at the heart of what’s driving retailers’ efforts to crush the LRET; and the wind industry with it.

This might sound obvious, if not a little silly: electricity retailers are NOT in the business of NOT selling power.

Adding a $45 billion electricity tax to retail power bills can only make power even less affordable to tens of thousands of households and struggling businesses, indeed whole industries, meaning fewer and fewer customers for retailers like Origin, AGL and EnergyAustralia.

The strategy adopted by retailers of refusing to ‘play ball’ by signing up for PPAs will, ultimately, kill the LRET; it’s a strategy aimed at being able to sell more power, at affordable prices, to more households and businesses.

And it’s working a treat, so far.

The wind industry’s incessant daily whining about “uncertainty”, is simply a signal that the retailers have already won. Once upon a time, the wind industry and its parasites used to cling to the idea that the RET “has bi-partisan support“, as a self-comforting mantra: but not anymore. And it’s the retailers’ refusal to sign PPAs that’s thrown the spanner in the wind industry’s works.

While the likes of Epuron and Infigen will continue to work themselves into a lather about their inevitable fate, in the meantime, retailers, like Origin, AGL and EnergyAustralia, can simply sit back, watch the political fireworks, and wait for the inevitable and complete collapse of the LRET; and, with it, the Australian wind industry.

In this ‘drought’ only the retailers have the capacity to survive.

drought-2004

A Worthy Opponent, for the Wind-Pushers!

SA Wind Farm War: AFL CEO – Gillon McLachlan – Launches Litigation Against NZ’s Trustpower

gillon mclachlan

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New Zealand’s Trustpower love throwing their weight around – provided the targets of their violence and thuggery are 79 Year Old Pensioners and Disabled Farmers.

Now, these delightful characters have a real fight on their hands.

Gillon McLachlan is as well-heeled as he is passionate about his beloved property, Rosebank – the magnificent range of Hills in which it nestles, and the thriving communities that surround and support it.

Back in December, Gillon pitched in with a well-delivered plea to the Mid-Murray DAP to knock back Trustpower’s ludicrous proposal to carpet 114 of these things all over the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges:

AFL’s CEO – Gillon McLachlan Hammers the ‘Desecration of his Country’ & the ‘Extreme Community Division’ Caused by Wind Farms

With the stinky little DAP predictably rubber-stamping the application, Gillon has now thrown his considerable resources into the battle, along with a hundred or so others, with an Appeal launched in South Australia’s planning appeal court, the Environment, Resources & Development Court. Here’s SA’s local Sunday rag’s take on the unfolding war against the threatened destruction of SA’s iconic Mount Lofty Ranges and the dozen of communities that those fertile hills sustain.

AFL boss’s bid to ban wind turbines near his farm
Sunday Mail
Ben Hyde
31 January 2016

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has launched court action over the approval of a massive wind farm on the doorstep of his family’s historic Rosebank property, near Mt Pleasant.

Mr McLachlan has appealed against the approval of the $700 million wind farm, to feature 114 turbines standing up to 165m high dotted along the ranges between Palmer, Tungkillo and Sanderston.

The appeal is listed against wind farm developers Trustpower, the Mid Murray Council, Environment Protection Agency, the Planning Department and the Environment Minister.

A preliminary conference is scheduled to be heard in the Environment, Resources and Development Court by Commissioner Lolita Mohyla at 3.30pm tomorrow.

Mr McLachlan’s is one of four appeals filed against the wind farm, which was approved by the Mid Murray Council’s development assessment panel on December 18. He yesterday declined to comment about the appeal.

In December, he submitted a video message to the development assessment panel opposing the wind farm being built.

“Even if it were to be conclusively established wind farms do not produce health problems, it’s annoying and affects quality of life,” he said.

“I was frankly heartbroken that this land will be forever marred by enormous man-made structures.”

Mr McLachlan also said any wind farm would cause significant damage to the land, would hinder potential tourism opportunities and “cause extreme division in the community”.

Rosebank, a prominent and historic sheep station east of Mt Pleasant, was pioneered in 1843 by Scottish-born landowner George Melrose, whose descendants include the McLachlan family.

The Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges Landscape Guardians, on behalf of up to 90 residents in the region, have also appealed against the development. They are scheduled for a preliminary conference in the ERD Court in mid-February.

During an ERD Court preliminary conference, the parties discuss how they would like the court proceedings to occur. This could include through continued negotiations, mediation or by trial or hearing.

Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges Landscape Guardians chair Tony Walker said opponents felt the approval process was unjust. “We believe that the whole process failed to give any weight to the objectors,” he said. “There is a lot of opposition — from the little man on the ground and from people with more resources.”

Numerous people living near wind farms have claimed they cause health problems, including severe headaches and disrupted sleep patterns.

However, the National Health and Medical Research Council issued a report last year that found there was “currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans” — but said there was a need for more in-depth research.

Mr Walker said those opposed to the development were prepared for a fight. “We’ve been fighting for almost five years (and) it’s a fight that could go on for years, depending on who blinks first,” he said. “(But) it’s worth fighting for.”
Sunday Mail

If Ben Hyde truly believes there’s nothing to complaints about living with incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound, he should get out more.

Starting with a look at the Federal Senate Inquiry Report, that excoriatedthe corruption and bias of the NHMRC-  an outfit peopled by wind industry plants, that ignores almost every relevant piece of wind turbine acoustic research and, instead, relies on the musings of a former tobacco advertising guru, who claims noise induced sleep deprivation suffered by wind farm neighbours is all in their heads:

NHMRC Fails Science 101 in Continued Wind Farm Health Cover Up

Ben might also jump in a set of wheels and head for Jamestown, where he can meet with Clive and Trina Gare, cattle graziers in SA’s Mid-North.

Since October 2010, the Gares have played host to 19, 2.1MW Suzlon S88 turbines, which sit on a range of hills to the West of their stately homestead. Under their contract with AGL they receive around $200,000 a year; and have pocketed over $1 million since the deal began.

In a remarkable move, the Gares gave evidence to the Senate Inquiry into the great wind power fraud during its Adelaide hearing, in June 2015. Any journalist worth their salt would start by taking a look at what they told a Federal Senate Committee about ‘the worst decision of their lives’:

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

When farmers being paid $200,000 a year to host these things complain bitterly about sleep deprivation as a regular event, then STT is pretty much satisfied that the noise and vibration generated by turbines is causing what the World Health Organisation has considered to be an adverse health effect in and of itself (for over 60 years).

What Gillon McLachlan is about to tackle is willful ignorance and institutional corruption – of precisely the kind that resulted in the decision to approve the construction of 114 of these things, shoe-horned into hundreds of backyards, all over the prettiest and most productive part of the Adelaide Hills.

What makes the DAP’s decision all the more ridiculous is that South Australians are already paying the highest power prices in Australia (if not the World on a purchasing power parity basis) with a grid on the brink of collapse.

It’s been almost a decade since SA’s Labor Party shackled itself to wind power: a wholly weather dependent power source; that’s intermittent and unreliable, requiring 100% of it’s capacity to be backed-up 100% of the time by conventional power generators; that, accordingly, has NO commercial value (save the massive power consumer and/or taxpayer subsidies it attracts); kills millions of birds and bats; and, with the incessant low-frequency noise and infrasound it generates, drives people mad in their homes, or drives them out of them altogether.

It takes a certain kind of fool to believe that SA’s energy disaster can be improved by backing more of the same. But SA’s public institutions are drenched in deluded Labor (green/left) ideology; and peopled by lunatics who wouldn’t know the first thing about power generation (or much else, really).

Gillon McLachlan and his compatriots are about to hit them with a solid dose of common sense and a mountain of facts. The Battle has begun.

Rosebank

Bankers & Investors Close Ranks & Doom Wind Industry to Death By A Thousand Cuts

solar-panels-at-Nyngan

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Earlier this week we looked at how Australia’s big power retailers have turned their backs to the wind to face the Sun, instead.

Commercial retailers (we don’t count the ACT Government) haven’t entered any Power Purchase Agreements with wind power outfits since November 2012; and, we hear, have determined not to enter any more PPAs for wind power, ever again.

The big operators have absolutely no interest in wind power; and every interest in killing off the Large-Scale RET that created, and for the time being sustains, the wind industry.

As pointed out previously, the retailers’ switch to large-scale solar is a canny, but fleeting move – designed to avoid the shortfall penalty for the few years it takes for the LRET to collapse; as the political and economic toxicity of the policy escalates over the next year or two.

It is, after all, a pointless $3 billion a year power tax that runs until 2031 – for no other reason than to subsidise the production of insanely expensive and wholly unreliable wind power; at a time when Australia’s grid is swamped with oodles of the reliable, secure and affordable stuff.

Without PPAs with retailers, wind power outfits haven’t a hope in hell of obtaining bank finance to build any new wind farm capacity; and the retailers’ recalcitrance has investors spooked, too – as the following articles attest.

Wind optimism stalls
The Courier
Matthew Dixon and Peter Hannam
16 January 2016

STALLED: Investment in large wind projects isn’t coming as quickly as expected.

THE confidence that everyone had expected to return to the renewable energy sector following the demise of Tony Abbott is yet to come to fruition.

Investors spent just $15 million since February 2014 on big wind, solar or other clean energy projects that were not otherwise supported by government programs such as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

That figure is a huge drop from when investment peaked in 2011 on the back of government support for renewables.

The figures and belief that the industry may have stagnated according to an annual survey by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Despite Mr Abbott’s removal as prime minister, and many key figures in the industry expectations of a return to bigger levels of investment, there is no certainty that the investment will return in 2016.

With a number of major wind farms in the Ballarat area already securing planning approval and only waiting on investment for construction to begin, development has stagnated.

This includes huge farms planned in Stockyard Hill and within the Moorabool Shire.

Australian Wind Alliance national coordinator Andrew Bray said the industry had not rebounded as some had hoped, but there was still a lot of optimism.

“It is definitely the case that the market has not recovered since the Abbott government’s attack on the Renewable Energy Target,” he said.

“While there appears to be some optimism surrounding projects starting to progress, that hasn’t eventuated.

“It is now up to all the players, the banks, the retailers to come to the table and start resolving this impasse.”

The Abbott government’s repeal of the carbon tax in July 2014 – which removed long-term price support – and a mishandled review that led ultimately to a cut of about one-fifth in the 2020 Renewable Energy Target meant “confidence evaporated” in the sector according to Kobad Bhavnagri, head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Australia.

“It can’t be understated that the actions of the Abbott government have destroyed confidence in the renewable energy market,” Mr Bhavnagri said.

“Lenders in the market are almost all of the view that the political risks in the RET … have made it too risky to invest in.”
The Courier

Predictable ‘sackcloth and ashes’ stuff from a pair of typically deludedFairfax wind-cultists, but the line they pull from Bloomberg’s boffin that: “Lenders in the market are almost all of the view that the political risks in the RET … have made it too risky to invest in” is absolutely spot on!

Not only are investors not game to throw so much as a shekel at wind power in Australia anymore, those with skin in the game are cutting and running as fast as their panicked, jelly-legs can carry them.

To give some insight into the fear that’s driving them, we’ll head back in time to trace a little tale about a Spanish wind power outfit’s efforts to ditch the Taralga wind farm in NSW.

Renewable energy sector crisis forces Banco Santander to quit Taralga wind farm
Sydney Morning Herald
Angela Macdonald-Smith
31 March 2015

Banco Santander, a major investor in renewable energy, will sell its only Australian wind farm and exit the local sector because of policy uncertainty that has dragged the industry into crisis.

Santander will seek a buyer for its 90 per cent stake in the 106.8 megawatt Taralga wind farm near Goulburn, which is not being included in the renewable energy fund it set up late last year with two Canadian pension giants because of the perceived poor prospects for the sector in Australia, say sources.

David Smith, executive director of Santander in Sydney, declined to comment.

Australia’s renewable energy sector has been left in limbo by the political debate surrounding the country’s 2020 renewable energy target. The government and Labor Opposition agree the 41,000GWh target for large-scale renewable energy needs to be reduced to suit the downturn in total power demand from the grid, but have been unable to agree on a compromise.

As of last week, the government was proposing a 2020 target of 32,000GWh, while Labor wants a target in the high 30,000GWh range. A compromise suggested by the Clean Energy Council at 33,500GWh, up from the current level of about 17,000GWh, has failed to find backing.

Investment in large-scale renewable energy collapsed by almost 90 per cent in 2014 as a result of the deadlock, which has been criticised by several large foreign investors in the local renewable energy sector, including GE, Spain’s Fotowatio Renewable Venture and Infigen Energy cornerstone shareholder, the Children’s Investment Fund. They have all warned of the harm to Australia’s sovereign risk, which will deter long-term infrastructure investors.

In December, Santander struck a deal with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board in Canada to transfer its portfolio of renewable energy and water infrastructure assets into a new company owned equally by all three parties. But despite the partners having an appetite for other infrastructure assets in Australia, the wind farm was excluded from the $US2 billion-plus ($2.6 billion) portfolio of assets in the new company because of the uncertainty around the RET and the decision by the Coalition government to ditch the carbon tax, say sources close to the company.

The new company will, however, invest in Brazil and Mexico, which are seen as offering better prospects for renewable energy investors than Australia.

“It is quite clear that the uncertainty around the RET and other changes to policy that have occurred over the past few years has created a lot of uncertainty for investors in the renewable energy space,” said Richard Pillinger at BlueNRGY LLC, which owns 10 per cent of the Taralga wind farm.

The Taralga wind farm, which has a 10-year contract to supply power to EnergyAustralia, was financed with about $280 million from Santander, CBD Energy, Danish export credit agency EKF, ANZ and the federal government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Production of electricity from the first of the 51 wind turbines began in December.

CBD Energy has since gone into administration and been acquired by US-based BlueNRGY LLC.

Santander is closing the Sydney office for its equity investment arm, which focuses on renewable energy, in mid-2015.
Sydney Morning Herald

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With the dreaded Tony Abbott little more than political history, and the ‘immutable’ 33,000 GWh annual LRET target now set in stone (just like the previous 41,000 GWh target!), Banco Santander should have been knocked to the floor with a rush of cashed-up and willing buyers.

So, let’s wind the clock forward and tally up the bids for Taralga.

Taralga Wind Farm sale runs out of puff
The Australian
Bridget Carter and Gretchen Friemann
22 January 2016

The sale of the Taralga Wind Farm could be put on hold, with sources suggesting the sales process for the asset generated limited buyer interest.

Apparently, one mystery bidder did circle the operation, but it is now thought unlikely it is still interested.

AMP Capital is among other groups that had a look in the early stages.

But sources say that the carrying value of the asset is too high, and long-dated swaps in the capital structure that are difficult to change are deterring buyers.

The Spanish owners, Banco Santander, appointed ANZ last year to sell the wind farm on the NSW coast, 45km north of Goulburn.

Taralga was expected to sell for about $200 million.

It gained state approval in 2012 to build 51 wind turbines, generating 106.8 megawatts of electricity.

Banco Santander, the world’s third-largest clean energy lender, had moved to sell the asset as part of its decision to exit the Australian market.

It is understood to have reached a global tie-up with some of Canada’s pension funds in recent times.
The Australian

Not a serious bid in sight! Whatever could have got investors to balk at a ‘sure-fire’ one-way bet?

Could it be that investors have worked out that ANY business that depends entirely on a piece of government policy can be done in at the stroke of a pen?

For STT’s analysis of what’s behind the investors’ panic see: Wind Industry Still Wailing About ‘Uncertainty’ as Australian Retailers Continue to Reject Wind Power ‘Deals’

We’ve said it before and we’ll keep saying it: the wind industry is among the greatest Ponzi schemes of all time. If you have so much as a penny anywhere near it, then grab it and get out fast.

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2016 Australian of the Year Awards, by STT

STT’s Australian of the Year Awards 2016

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Australians are a weird mob – as demonstrated by that, somewhat militaristic, culinary mash up; detailing ‘Operation Boomerang’ – a top-level mission to extract expats from far-flung, lamb-free-zones and return them to mouth-watering, succulent barbecued delights.

The fact that Aussies love our lamb, and frown on vegans, upsets the PC Police, but then we’ve never had much time for priggish authority: whether defending France in the Great War;  or ourselves from fire and flood, we’re a bunch that tends to get on with the job, without much fuss or fanfare. And, quite rightly, treat the presumed elite and pompous with a mixture of suspicion and derision.

Mildly hedonistic, and hard-wired with a sense of fair-play, Australians, on the whole, are slow to anger, but quick to jump in to a stoush when the bullies of the world start throwing their weight around.

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And, despite ingrained and healthy irreverence, Australians pull together as a pretty decent, civil society – built around protection for the weak and the vulnerable among our number – whether it be one or hundreds.

When faced with the unarguable suffering of human beings, arguments pitched along the lines of “it’s all for the greater good” don’t cut it with STT – and they tend not to cut it with Australians, either.

Last time we looked, Australians were gifted with a few fundamental precepts in their treatment of their fellow Australians.

First, don’t annoy your neighbours – and, if one of them is in trouble, don’t hang back and wait to be asked – get in there and help them.

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Whether it’s bushfires or floods – Australians know how to pitch in and save their neighbours’ lives and property.  Why?  Because it is the right thing to do.

As Operation Boomerang suggests, 26 January is the day when Australians hit the beach, haul-out the barbie and wash down paddocks full (or, rather emptied) of Aussie lamb, with frosty cold beer and humongous Australian reds. Mmmmm

And, on Australia Day, the country turns to reflect on the achievements of those who fight with honour and courage, in a whole range of human endeavours, for the betterment of our collective lot.

In Australia, the fight to bring the great wind power fraud to a shuddering halt is being won: the wind industry is on its knees, investment is at a standstill and the financial collapse of wind power outfits – like the near-bankrupt Infigen – is a case of when, not if.

The talk has turned from consideration of the wind industry’s “future”, to the timing of its inevitable demise.

But that switch in fortune has come thanks to the blood sweat and tears of hundreds of well-informed and dedicated individuals around this country.

As with any public gong, it’s impossible to mention them all, so we’ll stick to those who STT thinks have made outstanding contributions in their respective fields.

Once again, following the style of Australia’s national daily, The Australian, STT throws up a list of notables as nominees for “STT’s Australians of the Year”.

It’s not necessarily a beauty contest, so feel free to vote according to your heads and not your hearts. And, because our little list is obviously cursory and incomplete, you have absolute liberty to nominate and vote for all of those unsung heroes in your communities who have made the kind of contributions that are worthy of recognition and praise.

We gratefully recognise and thank our perennials, whose tireless devotion to either destroying the wind industry, or saving those who suffer at the hands of that callous industry and those paid handsomely to supposedly protect them, earned them awards for remarkable efforts in our 2015 Australia Day Honours:

Starting with the Tireless Community Defenders:

With this award, STT hopes to recognise the tireless and dedicated work of the people who have rallied to promote the interests of farmers and rural communities around the Country.

Where the wind industry and its parasites attack these people as “anti-wind” (a strange and meaningless epithet, if ever there was one – STT thinks it impossible to find a human being with antipathy towards a gentle summer’s breeze) – STT says the proper characterisation is of a group of people who are positively fearless in advocating in favour of sensible energy policy and, therefore, are better described as “pro-Australian”, “pro-farming” and “pro-community” leaders and advocates.

We again note and thank:

South Australia’s Mary Morris – who continues to impress and inspire with efforts to ensure communities get relevant noise rules and that they get enforced. Her relentless efforts to get the facts before the Senate Inquiry were super-human: Wind Farm Senate Inquiry Fallout Continues19 June 2015.

Victoria’s Annie Gardner – who is leading the charge with the new wind farm commissioner, Andrew Dyer – hammering him with the kind of facts that he’ll never get from AGL, Greg Hunt or any of the other puppets controlled by the wind industry; and calling out her heartless neighbours for setting up hundreds of these things on their properties, destroying her community and leaving them all for dead: Macarthur Turbine Hosts Destroy Local Community & Bolt, as Hammering the Wind Industry becomes the “New Black” 27 June 2015.

Victoria’s Keith Staff  – who continues to use his awesome email contact list to great effect, bombarding our political betters and journalists with every “inconvenient” fact that scuttles the endlessly repeated lies, upon which the great wind power fraud depends. As we’ve come to expect, Keith gave them hell in his evidence to the Senate Inquiry, too: Senate Inquiry: Hamish Cumming & Ors tip a bucket on the Great Wind Power Fraud 15 April 2015.

New South Wale’s Patina Schneider – is the NSW’s Tablelands answer to the Celtic warrior queen, Boadicea. Patina is the brains and muscle behind the Australian Industrial Wind Turbine Awareness Network – a group dedicated to smashing the wind industry and exposing the corruption that it exploits to its advantage; and she just keeps giving them hell: Time to Tune-In Tony: Coalition’s $46 Billion Wind Industry Rescue Package has Liberal Voters Seething 9 June 2015.

Then there are the experts and their immeasurable Contributions to Science and Public Health:

South Australia’s Professor Colin Hansen – is one of nature’s true gentleman; and Australia’s leading academic authority on noise and vibration. Colin’s work on identifying the precise nature of the noise generated by industrial wind turbines, and its relationship to the health effects suffered by neighbours, has been going on quietly in the background for almost 7 years now. His evidence before the Senate Committee was as compelling as it was impressive. He continues to press for a set of noise rules that actually protect people, instead of the wind industry: Top Acoustics Professor Calls for Full Compensation for Wind Farm Victims, as Council Calls for “National Noise Cops” 29 March 2015.

New South Wales’ Steven Cooper – was another who impressed the Senators during the Inquiry into the great wind power fraud. Quiet and methodical, Steven Cooper is the acoustican’s acoustician. Motivated by the ethical responsibilities that are attached to acousticians, requiring them to put public health and safety first and foremost; Steve laid out that, and much more, before the Senate Inquiry: Senate’s Wind Farm Inquiry: Steven Cooper’s Evidence on his Groundbreaking Study 14 April 2015.

South Australia’s Dr Sarah Laurie – defines fortitude, resilience, stoicism, fearlessness, and an overall desire to let right be done: terms that only begin to capture the essence of a remarkable women. Sarah continues in her efforts to win an Australian ‘fair go’ for all: Senate Wind Farm Inquiry – Dr Sarah Laurie says: “Kill the Noise & give Neighbours a Fair Go” 17 July 2015.

There are the gifted and inspired leaders and their Contributions to Political Reform:

Victorian Senator, John Madigan – holds that “justice” and “right” are not just fancy concepts to chatter about – they are the pillars of decent, civil society. Dogged and determined, John, as Chair, provided the teeth needed to put last year’s Senate Inquiry on track and ensured a cracking set of recommendations hit the press; and he continued to expose the insane cost of the most pointless policy ever devised: Wind Power Fraud Finally Exposed: Senator John Madigan Details LRET’s Astronomical 45 Billion Dollar Cost to Power Consumers 20 June 2015.

South Australian Senator, Nick Xenophon – SA’s favourite Greek, has rallied behind South Australian communities set upon by wind power outfits from the very beginning; and he gets it. Nick’s efforts on the Senate Inquiry were as remarkable as they were breathless. Appearing, often by phone hook-up and with time stolen from the most punishing schedule in politics, his cross-examination of pompous, obnoxious and arrogant wind industry spruiker, Vesta’s Ken McAlpine – later forced to apologise for spreading malicious falsehoods about Dr Sarah Laurie – was well-worth the admission price: Vesta’s Ken McAlpine Forced to Apologise to Dr Sarah Laurie for …. well, just being ‘Ken’ 20 September 2015.

New South Wales Senator, David Leyonhjelm – doesn’t hide his light under a bushel – and is always on the front foot in his efforts to educate and inform Australians about the nature, scale and scope of the greatest rort of all time. David sat on the Senate Inquiry – the existence of which was due in no small part to his powers of influence and persuasion – needling the shills that lined up to protect what’s left of the wind industry; and otherwise giving them hell: NSW Senator – David Leyonhjelm – Hammers the “Smug Untouchability” of the wind industry14 June 2015.

Western Australian Senator, Chris Back – has been an STT Champion from the very beginning. Despite plenty of bitter opposition from the wind industry plants in Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s office, and a few rabid wind-cultists working as staffers on the Senate Committee, Chris manged to steer the Senate Inquiry in precisely the right direction. Not content with impressing his mark on the thumping Senate Report, Chris came out pressing for an immediate end to the madness: Liberal Senator – Chris Back – Demands Moratorium on New Wind Farms 17 October 2015.

Queensland Senator, Matt Canavan – is an economist by trade, having worked for the Productivity Commission, he’s got a head for facts and figures; and he gets it. Matt’s well-reasoned musings have graced the pages of STT more than just a couple of times. Matt slipped onto the Senate Committee and made a very solid contribution to the Inquiry, grilling wind industry hacks about the true (insane) cost of wind power; and he continued his offensive in the Senate, with his attack on ‘Green’ hypocrisy and the nonsense of wind power: Australian Senator – Matt Canavan – Slams “Greens” Hypocrisy & Skewers the Great Wind Power Fraud 31 March 2015.

Federal MP, Angus Taylor – aka “the Enforcer” – has been smashing into the great wind power fraud, even before he was elected in a landslide to the New South Wales seat of Hume in September 2013. Angus, a Rhodes scholar in economics and law, has been on the front foot ever since. Recent Liberal party shenanigans aimed at shunting Angus out his electorate have only stiffened his resolve; expect to see him on the front bench soon; and in a position to finally put to death the ludicrously costly and thoroughly pointless LRET. Meanwhile, the Enforcer’s relentless work to protect Australian rural communities continues: Angus Taylor MP: Retailer Boycott – Wind Farms will NOT be Built where there is ‘Negative Community Reaction’ 27 October 2015.

There are the journos noted For Excellence in (Proper) Journalism:

Alan Jones AO – took more than just a passing “interest” in the great wind power fraud, its consequences and victims; starting with his appearance as the MC at the great wind power fraud rally in Canberra, June 2013 (seeour post here). Ever since, Alan has been very much the ‘voice’ of the people; and continues to torment the gullible and corrupt among our political betters, with powerful pieces that expose the rottenness of the wind industry and those behind it: Three Magnificent Women Take On Australia’s Monstrous Wind Power Outfits & their Pathetic Political Backers 12 August 2015.

Graham Lloyd – is The Australian’s Environmental Editor and, among his journalistic peers who claim that tag, is unique. Where Graham differs, is that he lives up to the ethical responsibilities, which were once central to journalism as a profession: he equips himself with the facts. Once armed, he’s positively dangerous – uncovering the fraudsters and charlatans that parade as ‘Friends of the Earth’, with pointed pieces that get the ‘troublesome’ truth out: Pacific Hydro & Acciona’s Acoustic ‘Consultant’ Fakes ‘Compliance’ Reports for Non-Compliant Wind Farms 19 September 2015.

For more on our perennial contenders check out last year’s: STT’s Australian of the Year Awards.

Now, we introduce our new contenders for 2016.

And the categories and nominees are:

Tireless Community Defenders

Martin Hayles

Martin Hayles

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Martin Hayles skips the nomination process and takes a prize, without contest. But, tragically, this gong is delivered posthumously: Martin died suddenly, at an all too young 51, a fortnight ago.

STT followers will know of Martin through the variety of characters he adopted on our comments boards: The Goat of Greenhill Road; and Jeff’s Last Goodbye (a nod to his favourite artist, the seminal Jeff Buckley), to name a few. Whichever of these characters he adopted, his comments were erudite, insightful, full of passion and always entertaining.

Martin was the attack dog for the Heartland Farmers – a group of equally dogged community defenders – dedicated to saving South Australia’s premier grain growing region, Yorke Peninsula from the ludicrous Ceres wind farm proposal; a proposal which SA’s favourite Greek, Senator Nick Xenophon, quite rightly, described as an “economic kick in the guts for South Australians”.

Martin took it up to the handful of Judas Iscariot types – heartless land-owners, who were prepared to destroy their community for a measly 30 pieces of silver.

And he hounded, without mercy, the former second-hand car salesmen that fronted Suzlon aka RePower aka Senvion – who tried – with the seemingly indestructible tenacity of cockroaches – to sleaze (and when that failed), lie, threaten, bully and deceive the crème de la crème of South Australia’s grain growers, in an effort to spear almost 200 of these things into the most productive barley growing region in the Country.

But that’s Martin the warrior. Martin, the man, touched so many lives, and his death will affect so many, many people. Martin was gifted with great care and compassion for others; and always found time in his heart for people set upon by the tyranny and inequity of this stinking industry. His tenacity, strength and drive was something to behold and inspire.

As his spirit soars further and beyond us, in the words of another great who passed this month, to Martin we say ‘Check ignition and may God’s love be with you.’

For Excellence in (Proper) Journalism

Hendrik Gout

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Channel Seven’s Today Tonight is the must-watch current affairs show for South Australia’s aspiring working class – when an issue becomes the top story on Today Tonight, you can guarantee you’ve reached not only a substantial audience by number; but that you’ve also hit political dead-centre – in terms of reaching voters capable of deciding elections; and policies on the way to them.

The Today Tonight viewer mightn’t be a Twitter jockey, but he or she is a first-class talker; whether it’s at work or backyard barbecues, whatever they’ve seen soon becomes the topic of the day (or the week).

When the topic is their spiralling power bills and, despite paying through the nose for the stuff, suffering statewide blackouts to boot, you can guarantee plenty of fist-waving fury being added to tea room and backyard debates on just who, or what’s to blame.

Leading Today Tonight’s charge against SA’s wind power driven energy and economic crisis is Hendrik Gout. Laid back, with a laconic flair, Hendrik has earned his stripes as an STT Champion in recent months, with brilliant pieces detailing SA’s unfolding, ‘double-whammy’ nightmare of rocketing power prices (already double the rates of the ACT, and set to double again) and a grid on the brink of collapse.

Here’s a taste of Hendrik’s dry wit and insight:

STT’s Special Award for True Courage & Real Compassion

Clive and Trina Gare

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Clive and Trina Gare are cattle graziers from South Australia’s Mid-North with their home property situated between Hallett and Jamestown.

Since October 2010, the Gares have played host to 19, 2.1MW Suzlon S88 turbines, which sit on a range of hills to the West of their stately homestead. Under their contract with AGL they receive around $200,000 a year; and have pocketed over $1 million since the deal began.

In a truly noble and remarkable move, the Gares gave evidence to the Senate Inquiry into the great wind power fraud during its Adelaide hearing, in June 2015:

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

In their evidence, the Gares made it very clear that it was the worst decision of their lives; describing the noise from the turbines on their property as “unbearable”; requiring earplugs and the noise from the radio to help them get to sleep at night; and the situation when the turbines first started operating in October 2010 as “Crap, to put it honestly” – entirely consistent with, and properly vindicating, the types of complaints made routinely by wind farm neighbours who don’t get paid, in Australia and around the world.

The Senators on the Inquiry were moved no end by the daily misery laid bare by people who’ve had to live up close and personal with these things for over five years, and all the more so knowing that over that period they’ve pocketed over $1 million for doing so. Trina Gare candidly observing, in the same terms as Clive, that:

In my opinion, towers should not be any closer than five kilometres to a dwelling. If we had to buy another property, it would not be within a 20-kilometre distance to a wind farm. I think that says it all.

The Gares – along with plenty of others in the same position – were played by wind power outfits for dupes; as their evidence to the Senate attests.

Admitting to a mistake takes honesty and personal integrity; admitting to a colossal mistake, even more so. However, to not only do so in public, but to your Parliament, exhibits moral decency – especially given the potential of that admission to operate as a sobering warning to others who have made, or who are likely to make, the very same error.

What the Gares did is both remarkable and noble: these fine and decent people deserve the gratitude and sympathy of all; from those in their community, and well-beyond.

What they also deserve is that our political betters admit their mistakes; and immediately correct the errors that have led to the single greatest policy disaster in the history of the Commonwealth. After what the Gares have done, anything less is a monstrous insult.

On careful and considered reflection, Clive and Trina Gare take STT’s Special Award for True Courage & Real Compassion; and earn our undying respect and gratitude, as well.

So, as you wash down your rack of lamb with a thumping Barossa Valley shiraz, we think it only fitting to spare a thought for the efforts outlined above. Australia is all the better for people like these and the tireless contributions that they make.  STT thanks them all.

STTAustralianof the year