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

Australia Votes: STT Takes a Little Break

voting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Xenophon

****

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

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

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

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

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

Xenophon and Lambie

****

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

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

You see, Nick detests these things on economic grounds:

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

And on social and health grounds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate Recommendations Spell ‘DOOM’ for the Australian Wind Industry

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

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

Time for a break

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

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

camping

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

Wind Pushers Losing Popularity!

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

banshee

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

****

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

2016 Australian of the Year Awards, by STT

STT’s Australian of the Year Awards 2016

****

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.

Australian soldiers afghanistan

****

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.

queensland flood clean up

****

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

****

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

hendrik gout2

****

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

gare1

****

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

Southern Australians Suffering Due to Foolish Adoption of Wind Turbine Agenda…

Wind Power Disaster Unfolds: SA Facing Total Blackouts, Rocketing Power Prices & Thousands More Chopped from the Grid

jay weatherill

****

To call what South Australia’s Labor government has ‘gifted’ their constituents an energy ‘policy’, is to flatter it as involving some kind of genuine ‘design’. It’s an economic debacle, pure and simple.

The current mess started under former Premier, Mike Rann –  a former spin-doctor, whose relatives lined up at the wind power subsidy trough from the get-go.

Under its current vapid leader, Jay Weatherill, SA’s Labor government has been talking up a wind powered future for months now; swanning off to Labor’s fantasy world, where the wind blows and the sun shines 24 x 365; and the power is, of course, totally “free” – with his claims that SA can ‘enjoy’ more than 50% of its power from the sun and the wind, with just a little (more) government “help”.

Back in ‘harsh reality land’, however, Jay’s presiding over the worst unemployment in the Nation, at 8% – and soon to rocket – worse still than perpetual basket case, Tasmania. Here’s In Daily on the latest dole queue figures.

SA jobless down but still worst in nation
In Daily
15 October 2015

sa unemployment

South Australia unemployment figures experienced a slight drop of 0.2 per cent in September, but the state still has the highest jobless rate in Australia.

Date released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday morning show the SA jobless rate fell from 7.9 to 7.7 per cent, seasonally adjusted, the second biggest fall after Tasmania (down 0.4 per cent).

However, more South Australians are also leaving the job search.

SA had the largest decrease in the seasonally adjusted participation rate (down 0.8 percentage points), followed by Western Australia (down 0.6 percentage points) and Tasmania (down 0.5 percentage points).

Seasonally adjusted figures for September show SA had 864,200 people in jobs, with 66,400 people looking for work.

Victoria was the only state with an increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, up 0.1 per cent.

The trend rate for South Australia increased to 8 per cent.

National unemployment figures remained at 6.2 per cent (seasonally adjusted).

Employment, Higher Education and Skills Minister Gail Gago said the State Government had directed its focus on struggling South Australians.

“We recognise the difficult road ahead for many workers as we transition from the old economy to the new economy.

“Last week, we saw Alinta announce it will close its coal-fired power station by March next year.

“We are also seeing a downturn in resources jobs across the nation as a result of a global collapse in commodity prices.”

Gago said diversifying the economy while investing in new and growing industries were part of the government’s long-term structural reform.
In Daily

With economics ‘maestros’ like Gail Gago focusing on ‘struggling South Australians’, they’re in for a bumpy ride on her “difficult road”; to be sure. That the road was laid by megalomaniacs like Mike Rann and ‘serviced’ by the completely ‘Clueless’ Jay Weatherill, seems to be lost on Gail Gago, much to the miserable disadvantage of those they pretend to govern.

You see, most with the slightest grip on the basics of economics pick up on the fact that producers of widgets (and the like) are driven by profits (a motive lost on Labor/Green apparatchiks), which, in turn depend upon input costs. For widget makers, butchers, bakers and the like, drive up input costs and, all things equal, their profits will fall; and their ability to invest in their business and employ people will drop off, too.

Where the item is high on the list of inputs, a jump in its cost may see that business, or even whole industries, collapse; as they end up insolvent.

As just the most glaring example, where the input is electricity, industries that use stacks of it – like manufacturers, miners and mineral processors – have been literally crushed, as power prices have skyrocketed; thanks to wind power subsidies and the additional and unnecessary costs of peaking power to back it up when it disappears every day:

Britain’s Economic Nightmare Unfolds: Wind Power Costs Killing Thousands of REAL Jobs

South Australia’s economic debacle is, in no small part, due to its diabolical wind power policy; that’s led to South Australians paying the highest power costs in the Nation – if not (on a purchasing power parity basis) the highest in the world.

The fact that SA is an economic train wreck (see our posts here and here) is clearly lost on the likes of Gail Gago, when she talks about a “transition from the old economy to the new economy” – a place where, apparently, the rules of economics are permanently suspended, with skyrocketing power prices having no effect on investment, growth in incomes or employment. Maybe Weatherill & Co’s heralded “new economy” runs on moonbeams and fairy dust?

It’s going to need to – SA ‘relies’ on 17 wind farms and their ‘notional’ installed capacity of 1,477MW. However, its faith in the Wind Gods, pixies and the like seems to disappoint more than deliver:

May 2015 SA

We covered the dismal data from SA depicted above and more besides here:

The Wind Power Fraud (in pictures): Part 1 – the South Australian Wind Farm Fiasco

That woeful missive drew focus on the pathetic performance of the 17 wind farms that have led to SA being known as ‘Australia’s wind farm capital’: it has the greatest number of turbines per capita of all States – and the highest proportion of its generating capacity in wind power by a country mile. But that tag is far more a curse than a blessing, as the following pieces attest.

SA renewables use may lead to blackouts
Australian Financial Review
Ben Potter
29 October 2015

South Australia’s rising share of renewable power could cause blackouts if the Australian Energy Market Operator doesn’t intervene, the agency’s chief executive, Matt Zema, said.

SA’s rooftop solar panels could meet electricity demands during the middle of some days by 2024-25 if uptake continued at the current rate, he said, but this would lead to more volatility and less reliability, and a greater reliance on the interconnector, with the large eastern state generators to keep power flowing on some days.

The warning is relevant for the federal Labor opposition, which has called for 50 per cent of Australia’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. An interconnector is a high-capacity transmission line connecting two electricity markets.

Mr Zema said prices are becoming more volatile in SA because of the withdrawal of coal power plants and the strong uptake in solar energy.

Prices have hit the National Electricity Market limit of $13,800 a megawatt hour several times in the state in recent months. That makes industrial users uneasy and has led to speculation the government may have to pay thermal-coal generators to provide standby capacity. “The signal in that market is you actually need more thermals in reserve,” Mr Zema told a Committee for Economic Development of Australia lunch in Melbourne.

He said rather than Germany, which has a large share of renewable generation and is fretting over security of supply, SA is “more like Portugal – it’s at the end of the grid”. “So if they are going to go completely renewable, they are going to rely more and more on the interconnectors for system security.”

Mr Zema said the Energy Market Operator was intervening to balance the market to avoid blackouts in SA while the interconnector is upgraded, causing outages and complaints.

Peter Dobney, the head of energy and resources at packaging company Orora, told the lunch SA “has become a basket case for large industry energy users” and the outages were costing industry millions of dollars.

But Mr Zema said the upgrade had to be completed before the summer of 2016-17 because Alinta will close its Northern and Playford B thermal power stations in 2016, dropping 15 per cent of current capacity in SA.

He said the Energy Market Operator was purchasing frequency controlled ancillary services or FCAS “to stop SA actually going black if the interconnector drops out”. “How much do you want to pay for system security in SA? Because that’s what we are buying,” Mr Zema asked. “If we don’t buy FCAS and the system trips, we lose the whole state.”

Mr Zema said Germany, Spain and Italy were dealing with a similar problem by relying on interconnectors with France, which has a large surplus of nuclear power.
Australian Financial Review

elephant-in-the-room1

****

Hmmm… Not a single mention of SA’s wind farm fleet from the Fin Review. How curious? Could it just be the result of a little ‘group-think’ over at Fairfax?

True it is that the struggling Fairfax rags run with a maniacal cult-like veneration of wind power (see our post here).

But to head up an article as ‘SA renewables use may lead to blackouts’; and to avoid mention of wind power altogether (especially where wind power capacity in SA ‘outshines’ solar capacity by a whopping margin), smells like Ben Potter was deliberately directed to avert his eyes from the enormous, economy-destroying ‘elephant in the room’.

No, revealing that pesky-pachyderm was left to The Australian which, funnily enough, while covering exactly the same AEMO report, managed to draw reference to SA’s woefully wanting wind farms (or ‘wind’/’wind generation’) no less than 6 times (8, including the headline and the caption to its photo of a turbine: “The AEMO report will reignite debate about wind farms”); and referred to solar panels, just once.

SA ‘risks power shortfalls’ because of wind farm dependence
The Australian
Annabel Hepworth
26 October 2015

South Australia could experience electricity supply shortfalls as it becomes more reliant on wind farms and imports from Victoria, a new report finds.

The report by the Australian Energy Market Operator finds the closure of Alinta’s Northern Power Station by the end of March next year could have an impact in “extreme” conditions over the next three years.

The document, to be released today, is likely to reignite debate over wind farms just as the renewables industry hopes for more support after the change of prime minister.

Malcolm Turnbull’s backing for a carbon trading scheme contributed to him being toppled as opposition leader in 2009, while Environment Minister Greg Hunt has recently suggested that criticism of wind farms was confined to “views expressed by particular individuals”.

Under Tony Abbott the Coalition scaled back the renewable energy target, directed the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to invest in wind farms, and axed the carbon tax.

According to the new AEMO report, the planned closure of the Northern Power station will impact the balance of demand and supply in South Australia over the next three years, increasing the state’s reliance on wind and on imports from Victoria.

“When high demand coincides with low wind generation, plant outages, or low levels of imports, South Australia may experience supply shortfalls,” the report says.

In July, Alinta said it would close its Flinders operation in South Australia’s Port Augusta, which comprises the Northern and Playford B power stations and the nearby Leigh Creek mine, by March 2018, if not as early as March 2016.

Alinta boss Jeff Dimmery attributed the decision to policies aimed at supporting renewables and falling power demand that had led to a glut of power in South Australia. Earlier this month, the company confirmed the closure would be next year.

AEMO has produced its new report on the impacts of the Northern closure because it is considered significant enough for AEMO to update its yearly ­guidance on the adequacy of power generation in the National Electricity Market for the next decade.

Overall, the report finds the earlier withdrawal of Northern would not impact the point at which South Australia could breach the “reliability standard”, which says that just 0.02 per cent of power can go unserved in an area in a year.

AEMO has previously forecast that South Australia could breach the standard in 2019-20 and 2024-25, with the potential uptake of solar rooftop panels alleviating the situation in the years between.
The Australian

Could it be that Fairfax hacks have been engaged in a little ‘cherry-picking’, in order to keep spinning its ‘wonders-of-wind’ editorial line? Same AEMO report being covered, but an entirely different story. George Orwell generated a whole lingua franca – including terms such as “newspeak”; “doublespeak”; and “doublethink”- to capture what Fairfax considers should pass for ‘journalism’, these days (see our post here).

When the AEMO report talks about times when: “high demand coincides with low wind generation, plant outages, or low levels of imports, South Australia may experience supply shortfalls” it’s referring to data like this from June this year (the graph above is from May), showing the chaos that is wind power generation in South Australia:

June 2015 SA

In the AFR piece it talks about occasions when: “Prices have hit the National Electricity Market limit of $13,800 a megawatt hour several times in the state in recent months”.

But, for some strange reason, the AFR fails (or refuses) to join the dots: those occasions – when the spot price paid to generators goes from around $70 per MWh to the market cap of $13,800 per MWh perfectly coincide with sudden (and often, complete) wind power output collapses, as detailed here:

South Australia’s Unbridled Wind Power Insanity: Wind Power Collapses see Spot Prices Rocket from $70 to $13,800 per MWh

The cost of SA’s insane wind power policy is borne, of course, by its beleaguered (remaining) businesses; and struggling households (think old-age pensioners and the thousands of unemployed).

This is a State where some 50,000 homes have been disconnected from the grid – families simply no longer able to pay their power bills; who’ve been reduced to lighting their homes with candles, and, unable to power a fridge, using Eskies (coolers) to keep their perishables – cooking on wood stoves and trying to keep warm using barbeques.

With the fall-out from its wind power fiasco unfolding fast, hundreds of businesses will hit the wall; and thousands more households will soon get to join the tens-of-thousands, already sitting freezing (or boiling) in the dark.

SA power prices to surge by $150 a year, report warns
The Advertiser
David Nankervis
22 October 2015

POWER prices will surge up to $150 a year for hundreds of thousands of householders under controversial changes to electricity charges, an investigative report warns.

The SA Council of Social Services report also says small businesses face a 50 per cent rise in power costs and that this could force some to close.

The findings are based on a SACOSS investigation into the impact of rule changes by the Australian Electricity Market Commission.

The change is designed to shift the demand for power away from peak periods to take pressure off the network.

In response to the new rules, SA Power Networks has proposed introducing a monthly network charge calculated on a customer’s highest half-hour of energy use between 4pm and 9pm on any given day.

This will provide a “pricing signal” to customers to ration the use of appliances, SAPN spokesman Paul Roberts said.

“That means not turning on all major appliances at once during peak periods such as tea time on a hot day, instead delaying using the dishwasher or washing machine until later,” he said.

But SACOSS executive director Ross Womersley said the changes, beginning as early as 2017, would see half of all householders worse off.

“It would be madness for this to proceed and any changes should be deferred for at least a few years,” he said.

“And this new system should be introduced only on a voluntary basis, which would allow people to opt in only if they believe they will be better off.

“This is because people on low income and many other householders would be worse off.”

According to the SACOSS report, which will be submitted to SAPN as part of the network company’s consultation process:

APPROXIMATELY 50 per cent of householders would be worse off

THE biggest bill increases could reach $150 a year

THE biggest savings could be just $10 a year

HALF of small businesses would be worse off

ALMOST one-in-five small business would face a 50 per cent increase in energy costs

The report also said there was “limited (public) support” for the changes to the billing system.

SACOSS research revealed consumers were concerned about big variation in bills amounts, making it more difficult to budget for electricity costs.

The report said this would have a serious impact on low-income households over summer.

Mr Roberts said SAPN invited “consultation” on its proposed billing changes earlier this month because “we know people care about electricity prices”.

“We’re not only consulting on the detail of the changes, but also an appropriate transition that protects the interests of customers and gives them time to adjust to the changes.
The Advertiser

studying candle

Aussies Not Going to Force Wind Turbines on Communities….For Real??

Angus Taylor MP: Retailer Boycott – Wind Farms will NOT be Built where there is ‘Negative Community Reaction’

Angus Taylor

****

Angus Taylor, the Liberal Federal Member for Hume gave a wind industry scorching interview on Alan Jones’ Breakfast show on 2GB last week. For Australian rural communities fighting the threat of these things, STT thinks that what Angus had to say is the best news that they will have heard, since their battles began.

Alan Jones AO: Which brings us back, thank God we’ve got some like it, to the man I’ve talk to you about many times, Angus Taylor, this bloke has ability. He is an outstanding Federal member for the seat of Hume, a Rhodes scholar. He’s from the bush. He’s got degrees in economics and law from Sydney University, a masters degree from Oxford University in economics and let me fire a warning shot here, because I now learn that the factions, remember Malcolm Turnbull said there were no factions in the Liberal party? The left are cutting loose. Just as the leader now, Tony Abbott has gone, and they’re lining up probably to have a shot at people like Angus Taylor and Craig Kelly and others, mobilising pre-selection. Malcolm Turnbull said at the Liberal party council meeting a couple of weeks ago – the party is not run by factions – Malcolm, you’re kidding us. Joe Hockey’s resigned. I’m telling you the next member for the seat of North Sydney has already been decided. You can forget about your pre-selection. The bloke the factions have decided will be Trent Zimmerman. Now as I told you last time, this gifted and talented Angus Taylor, didn’t make it amongst the 41 ministries handed out by Malcolm Turnbull. It doesn’t worry him because he is very strong on policy. He’s on the line, Angus Taylor, good morning.

Angus Taylor MP: Morning Alan.

Alan Jones AO: Where do we go on all of this? ‘Cos there is an interconnectedness isn’t there, between carbon dioxide, global warming, Paris and a a fortune being spent and then suddenly, embracing renewable energy. And you’ve got this in your electorate.

Angus Taylor MP: I certainly do, I mean I’ve probably got more wind farms planned in my electorate than anywhere else and at the end of the day Alan what we’ve got is a situation where people will move into my electorate from Sydney or Canberra. They’ll pull all of their savings into buying a block of land, a few acres, and a little farm only to discover a year or two later that a big 170 metre wind turbine is going to be overlooking them. And it’s just not on Alan when these things are getting $600,000 or more of subsidies a year …

Alan Jones AO: Each, each.

Angus Taylor MP: Each. Each turbine, each one of them.

Alan Jones AO: Stop stop Angus. Out there, remember what this man has said, this is not some dumbbell from you know out the back blocks, we’re talking to a Rhodes scholar. A bloke with masters from Oxford University in economics. $700,000 of your money per wind turbine and they’re owned by foreign interests.

Angus Taylor MP: The extraordinary thing about is that we don’t have a planning system to deal with it. This is the equivalent of a factory being built in the middle of a new suburb. That’s what’s happening here. And of course if anyone moved into a new suburb and built their house and then suddenly found, without expecting it, without knowing it, a factory was going to turn up next door, ‘cos they’d scream about it, and so they should.

Alan Jones AO: See people are writing to me Angus they’re refugees in their own homes now – they have to leave.

Angus Taylor MP: Well that’s right, practically speaking,  there’s only 2 ways that we can sort this out. One is, we need a planning system that recognises these areas that I’ve got, that are really rural residential now and zones them in a way where you can’t have these sort of industrial developments, or, and this is very important that the energy retailers who enter into long term contracts to allow these developments to be built, say look we are not going to build developments like this in areas where there’s community reaction, very negative community reaction. People like AGL and Origin, Energy Australia, and the ACT Government as well.

Alan Jones AO: But Angus, you’re trained, your academic discipline was economics, but you weren’t just academic, you then worked in that field at an international level.

Angus Taylor MP: That’s right.

Alan Jones AO: Just explain this to me why does it, when the pastry cook whose listening to you now. He’s been up making bread and pastry since 2 o’clock doesn’t get one dollar in subsidy, why should wind turbines be getting billions of dollars of tax payer’s money in subsidies? I don’t understand.

Angus Taylor MP: Well it’s extraordinary, isn’t it. So, let me give you some numbers that I think are really, really stunning. We are – and just accept for the moment, I heard your introduction. But just accept for the moment that we are going to reduce carbon emissions by some amount. We are doing it now, through the Direct Action program, a lot of which is about land use, agricultural land use, at about $15 a tonne. But we are paying these wind turbines about $50 or $60 a tonne to do it. So it’s 4 times more than we know we can do it. Greg Hunt has been able to do this for $15 and yet we are choosing to do it for 4 times that. So it doesn’t make economic sense. And I think the important point here is that if we are going to go down this path, we can not make ourselves uncompetitive, we can’t throw this sort of money at it, particularly when, particularly when we know that significant communities are being very, very negatively affected by what’s going on.

Alan Jones AO: But Angus all this environment crap about carbon and wind turbines – how much carbon dioxide, if that’s the fear, if that’s the demon, how much carbon dioxide is created by building these blasted things? What about you know, when you’re constructing the turbine? You’ve got to get iron ore to build the turbine. You’ve got to make steel to build the turbine. You’ve got to transport the turbines. You’ve got to have tens of thousands of concrete that go into each of these turbines. How much carbon dioxide is created to build these “environmentally friendly” wind turbines? This is a nonsense.

Angus Taylor MP: Well there is a light, and of course the other factor, which you mentioned earlier on, is the volatility of it. It’s unpredictable, it’s  interruptable as they say. And the important point about that is that electricity is no good to anyone unless its at the right place at the right time. And of course you can’t predict when you’re going to get electricity from wind turbines.

Alan Jones AO: And if they weren’t injurious to health, why wouldn’t you put them on Bondi beach, Queens street Brisbane, Collins Street Melbourne, Paramatta road? If they weren’t injurious to health.

Angus Taylor MP: And this is my point. What we are effectively doing is putting big factories into areas which are increasingly subdivided. Look, in my electorate between Sydney and Canberra, there’s more and more people moving in, which is great thing, a great thing. But they’re moving in and suddenly discovering that they’re next door to a cluster of wind turbines and the impact that’s having on their land values, on their peace of mind is enormous.

Alan Jones AO: Astonishing, Astonishing. Now look, we’re going to keep talking to you and I hope that you can persuade some of those people in your Caucasus to all of this because this nonsense somewhere has got to end. But well done, you continue to do terrific work, we’ll talk again soon.

Angus Taylor MP: Thanks Alan.

Alan Jones AO: It’s Angus Taylor, the Federal member for Hume.
2GB Alan Jones’ Breakfast

Angus Taylor delivering with the very substance and style that earned him the well-deserved tagline, “The Enforcer“; and, with one quibble, an exceptional effort.

Where Angus starts talking about the cost of CO2 reductions in the electricity sector purportedly attributable to wind power, he heads off into the land of myth and make believe.

The wind industry has yet to produce a single shred of credible evidence that demonstrates wind power reducing CO2 emissions in the electricity sector (to any degree; or at all). Instead, the hard evidence suggests precisely the opposite result:

Wind Industry’s Bogus CO2 Abatement Claims Smashed Again

Why Intermittent Wind Power Increases CO2 Emissions in the Electricity Sector

But, with that aside, Angus’ considered observations deliver a body blow to the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers – when he talks about how Australia’s power retailers are boycotting planned wind farms in communities that make it clear they do not want them. As the message is critical to every community defender, wherever they are in Australia, we’ll set it out again:

this is very important that the energy retailers who enter into long term contracts to allow these developments to be built, say look we are not going to build developments like this in areas where there’s community reaction, very negative community reaction. People like AGL and Origin, Energy Australia, and the ACT Government as well.

Angus delivered the same message at the recent packed-hall meeting at Yass in NSW, where 160 turned up to make it clear that more than 90% of the Yass/Rye Park communities are bitterly opposed to plans by Kiwi owned Trustpower to turn their slice of Southern Tablelands’ Heaven into an industrial wasteland:

NSW Minister – Pru Goward – Joins Forces with Community Defenders to Kill Plans for Trustpower’s Rye Park Wind Farm Disaster

Not least because the thugs employed by Trustpower and Epuron belted into a 79 year-old pensioner and a disabled farmer at an earlier meeting (see our post here), the crowd at the Yass meeting were keen for revenge (probably why, despite a cordial invitation, Trustpower’s thugs lacked the nerve to show their heads).

The communities’ attitude is pretty well captured by this letter from local STT Champion, Jayne Apps to the local rag, the Boorowa News.

A Letter to the Editor
22 October 2015

To the Editor,

On Friday, October 9 a Public Meeting organised by the Rye Park Action Group was held in Yass. The meeting was widely advertised and open to anyone who wanted more information on the large number of ‘Wind Farms’ being planned and built on the Southern Tablelands and South West Slopes.

Attendees were given information about the effects of sound, including infrasound, from people living at the Gullen Range WF near Crookwell.

Speakers also came from South Australia to tell the audience about the problems of being a WF host on their land and their inability to continue living so close to operating turbines resulting in the eventual sale of their property, and a Yass Real Estate agent gave his opinion about the difficulties he is having selling properties that will be visually impacted by the proposed Yass Valley and Rye Park WFs and the price reductions vendors are taking as a result.

A solar expert also gave a talk, and had a display, on one of the alternatives to wind power and local residents and business owners stressed the need for people to research and ask questions of the developers before agreeing to, and signing, contracts with wind power developers.

The meeting was attended by 160 people, and although the meeting was open to supporters of wind power as well as those seeking more information the majority of these people came from the villages and farming communities that will be impacted by the many developments.

When you take into account that most of these people would have been representing families and friends I think it could be said that there is a large amount of opposition to wind power development in the area.

Trustpower (Rye Park WF) tell us there is widespread community support for their development but after several years of promoting community knowledge on wind power in rural areas I have yet to see any sign of these supporters.

The only supporters I have come across are those who will be benefiting financially, and those who trespass on my land and steal signs, most recently a 760mm high x 1830 wide sign that was several metres inside my boundary fence.

I find it disturbing that a person who is supporting wind power can be offended by a ‘No Wind Turbines” sign that is less that a metre high, but will allow Rye Park to be surrounded with 109 wind turbines that will be 175 metres high and will make a lot of noise, without even taking into consideration the impact it will have on the community as a whole and the precious remnant vegetation and animal habitats that will be destroyed in the construction process.

As a matter of interest, a poll was taken on the night of the Public Meeting.

The question was asked ‘Are you in favour of wind turbines being built in Yass Valley, Boorowa, Rye Park and the surrounding villages and rural areas?.’

Of the 160 people in attendance 138 of them voted. 136 voted no and 2 voted yes.

This is in stark contrast to the survey done several years ago that the wind power companies love to quote saying 80% of people want wind power.

I would also like to note that I personally invited Trustpower representatives Michael Head, Wind Development Officer, and Rontheo Van Zyl, Development Manager, to speak at the public meeting and have a display but they were adamant they would not be attending such a meeting.

I again urge those living in Boorowa to take notice of what is going on around you, give support to your local farmers and residents of Rye Park and do some research on the impact the Rye Park WF, Bango WF and Rugby WF will have if they are approved for construction.

If you would like more information please email: ryeparkactiongroup@gmail.com or get onto Trustpower’s Rye Park Wind Farm website and look at their maps.

Also talk to your Boorowa Councillors.

They are currently deciding on the future of our roads that are to be used in the development stages of the Rye Park WF and if approved will be allowing the huge amount of oversized traffic to pass through Boorowa streets and local roads.

Jayne Apps – Rye Park

Nice work, Jayne. With that sort of response from locals, STT is happy to call the ‘community reaction’ from Rye Park and Yass, ‘very negative community reaction’ – of precisely the kind that will see power retailers refusing to sign the Power Purchase Agreements which are an essential pre-requisite for wind power outfits, like Trustpower to obtain the finance needed to build the wind farms still threatened. No PPAs; means no new wind farms – it’s a simple as that.

For every community defender, wherever you are in Australia, follow the lead set by Rye Park and Yass.

Get angry, get organised, get vocal and help prevent your community from being treated as ‘road-kill’ in the greatest economic and environmental fraud of all time. Fight them now; and they will flee – empty handed.

poster

Feisty Aussies Fight Back Against the Corrupt Wind Pushers!

NSW Minister – Pru Goward – Joins Forces with Community Defenders to Kill Plans for Trustpower’s Rye Park Wind Farm Disaster

pru-goward

****

A week or so back we covered the antics of another foreign owned wind power outfit struggling to come to grips with the fact that Australian rural communities have had – as they say – ‘a gutful’ of the wind industry’s lies, treachery and deceit. And they’ve especially had enough of the bully-boy, stand-over tactics adopted by the thugs employed by the likes of Trustpower and Epuron:

Wind Industry Belting its ‘Message’ Home: Trustpower’s Thugs Assault 79-Year-Old Pensioner & Disabled Farmer

Since Trustpower’s thugs set upon highly respected local elder, Jim Field, the Yass and Rye Park communities have galvanised in their furious reaction to the manner in which he was treated. And rightly so.

Jim Field

****

The Yass and Rye Park communities’ brewing anger bubbled to the surface at a packed house meeting held in the Yass Memorial Hall on Friday, October 9.

And standing shoulder to shoulder with them was local State member and Minister for Mental Health and Assistant Minister for Health, Pru Goward. Here’s a little report on proceedings from the local rag.

Wind Turbines continue to create noise
Yass Tribune
Jessica Cole
16 October 2015

yass memorial hall

****

It was a full house at the Yass Memorial Hall on Friday to talk about the future of wind energy projects around the Hume electorate. Of the approximate 150 people who attended, the majority were against the establishment of wind farms.

Federal Member for Hume Angus Taylor and Member for Goulburn Pru Goward both attended the meeting that was hosted by a Rye Park group, attracting people from as far as Crookwell.

The development at the centre of discussion was the Rye Park Wind Farm project. Trustpower is proposing to erect 109 wind turbines, each 157 metres tall, with an approximate capacity of 327MW within the Rye Park area.

Ken Bell opened the meeting reminding people that these proposed turbines will be erected on Ngunnawal land and called for the crowd to respect each other’s views on the sensitive subject.

Angus Taylor

****

Mr Taylor was asked to speak and although he mentioned no particular preference to support nor decline the wind farm proposal he reminded residents that ongoing development was up to them.

“Unfortunately with these topics you will never get a 100 per cent agreement,” he said, “but you have to figure out what you want and come together to have your voice heard.”

Ms Goward took a harder line opposing the developments, supporting the complaints about health, noise and land depreciation. She spoke about the developments being a result of the federal government and assured those present that they can’t legislate wind farms.

“Increasingly, I am on the view that there is some validity on the health effects,” she said.

“There are a number of people with health problems … it is clearly not psychosomatic.”

She argued that securing and protecting residents from the turbines’ noise pollution was important.

“They impact upon the landscape and have an immediate effect upon land value,” Ms Goward continued.

“I am with this community and plan on putting pressure on the state government.

“I want to look after the health, prosperity and look of this beautiful area. We have to make sure not to let these wind farms divide us.”

Ms Goward also called for further land value and environmental reports to be done.
Yass Tribune

Angus Taylor may have simply been keeping his powder dry at Yass. Angus has been an STT pinup boy even before he stepped into the late STT Champion, Alby Schultz’s boots, as member for Hume – going back to his appearance at the Great Wind Power Fraud Rally in June 2013:

Rally – Angus Taylor

And Angus has seen plenty of action on the front foot, since then:

The Wind Industry’s Worst Nightmare – Angus Taylor – says: time to kill the LRET

Angus Taylor Joins the Wind Farm Rumble to Save Rugby & Rye Park

Taylor’s relatively neutral position at Yass, is part and parcel of just where the wind industry sits in Australia at the present time.

The major commercial power retailers have signalled that they will not enter long-term Power Purchase Agreements with wind farm outfits planning wind farms in communities, wherever there is significant and vocal opposition.

Without a PPA, wind power outfits will never obtain the finance necessary to build any new wind farms.

hunt

****

Hence the efforts by wind industry front man, Environment Minister young Gregory Hunt over the last couple of weeks to exhort retailers to hurry up and enter PPAs.

Hunt’s desperate and silly pleas are somewhat amusing. You see, Hunt and his mates at Infigen, Vestas & Co have, hitherto, never made any mention of the PPAs entered into between wind power outfits and retailers.

Those agreements have set guaranteed prices for wind power at between $100-120 per MWh – for power that has no commercial value (apart from the REC Subsidy it attracts): try selling a good on terms where you can never guarantee to supply it when a customer actually wants it; and where you’ll often be supplying it when a customer has absolutely no need for it. Basic commerce, to be sure; but try telling the Wind Gods that:

June 2015 National

Hunt’s wind industry benefactors have been at great pains to keep the terms of their PPAs under wraps (even flatly refusing to provide them to the Senate Inquiry into wind farms), simply because they would completely destroy the wind industry’s ludicrous claims about supplying power at prices cheaper than coal fired power; and equally ludicrous claims that the Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target lowers retail power prices. Notwithstanding that, from hereon, the LRET will add more than$45 billion to retail power bills on account of the REC Tax/Subsidy paid to wind power outfits, alone.

So, when Taylor told residents that ongoing development “was up to them”, it should be taken by community defenders as a ‘call to arms’. As STT has pointed out, just once or twice: fight them; and they will flee.

More pleasing still, was Pru Goward’s front foot approach; seizing on the concepts of community “health and prosperity”; and the fact that those fairly reasonable societal objectives are simply incompatible with fleets of bat-chomping, bird slicing, blade-chucking, pyrotechnic, sonic-torturedevices.

As to her call for “further land value” reports to be done, Pru need only tap into the work put together by highly experienced property valuer, Peter Reardon.

Reardon compiled a 30-page dossier on the impacts of wind farms on adjoining or nearby rural farms; and found that having these things as neighbours led to discounts of between “33 per cent and 60 per cent in the market place”. Reardon’s report and associated press releases are available to download below:

Southern Tablelands – Impact of Wind Farm Development on Surrounding Rural Land Values 2013

MEDIA Release Property devaluation

BDLG – Press Release

What Reardon found is little more than stating the bleeding obvious:

Potential Wind Farm Neighbour Finds Idyllic Property is Now ‘Unsaleable’ at Any Price

Wind Farms: Crushing Property Rights & Values Everywhere

Thankfully, for community defenders in NSW out to protect their hard-won common law property rights (you know, that seemingly forgotten right to own, live in and otherwise enjoy a home free from interference from incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound), they have an ally in Pru Goward. But, as Angus Taylor suggests, winning the battle to maintain and preserve those rights is down to each and every community defender. United, you cannot fail.

angry-mob

Aussie Senator, Chris Back, Demands Moratorium on New Wind Farms….

Liberal Senator – Chris Back – Demands Moratorium on New Wind Farms

no wind turbines

****

Over bitter opposition from Labor and the Greens, and following almost 6 months of solid graft, 8 hearings in 4 States and the ACT, dozens of witnesses and almost 500 submissions, the Senate Inquiry into the great wind power fraud delivered its ‘doorstop’ final report, which runs to some 350 pages – available here: Senate Report

The first 200 pages are filled with facts, clarity, common sense and compassion; the balance, labelled “Labor’s dissenting report”, was written by the wind industry’s parasites and spruikers – including the Clean Energy Council (these days a front for Infigen aka Babcock & Brown); theAustralian Wind Alliance; and Leigh Ewbank from the Enemies of the Earth.

One of the hard-working Senators on the Inquiry was Chris Back – a Liberal from WA – the ‘Liberals’ are meant to be Australia’s free-market Conservatives. True to his colours, Chris is still in there fighting for a ‘fair go’ for rural communities and Australian power consumers, everywhere.

But it’s not just the lunatic left that Chris is up against. He faces dogged efforts to kill off the Senate’s recommendations by Patrick Gibbons – the wind industry’s ‘Mr Fix It’; who ‘controls’ traffic in order to protect his wind industry mates, from within the (notionally) ‘Liberal’ Environment Minister, young Gregory Hunt’s office.

Notwithstanding rats in his own ranks, Chris Back is determined to see the benefits of 6 months of hard work get delivered. Here’s a taste of what Chris is all about.

Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines

In November 2014, I sponsored the motion in the Senate to establish the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines. The Committee concluded its Inquiry and reported to the Senate on 3 August 2015, making a number of important recommendations. The government has committed to responding actively and in good faith to the findings.

The Committee has recommended that:

The government sets up an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Industrial Sound (IESC). This is in response to the large number of reports of ill-health from witnesses living near turbines.

A pilot acoustic study of the low frequency sound and infrasound produced by large industrial turbines has indicated that there is a link between sound and sensations damaging to human health. This recommendation has been accepted by the Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt. I have made recommendations to the Minister regarding membership of the Committee.

The IESC develop a single national acoustic standard for the operation of wind turbines and reports to the relevant Health, Environment and Planning Ministers.

The IESC forms National Wind Farm Guidelines.

The government establish a National Wind Farm Ombudsman in response to community complaints. Minister Hunt has recently begun the process of establishing a Wind Farm Commissioner. I have recommended Terms of Reference to the Minister.

Eligibility to receive Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) will be made subject to compliance with the national acoustic standard and the wind farm guidelines.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) conduct a performance audit of the Clean Energy Regulator’s (CER) compliance with its role under the legislation.

The Government directs the Productivity Commission to conduct research into the impact of electricity generated by wind turbines on retail electricity prices.

All State Governments consider shifting responsibility for monitoring wind farms away from local councils to the State Environmental Protection Authority and failing that, a national regulatory body be established.

That all new wind farms will be eligible to receive RECs for a period of no more than five years (under current legislation they would be receiving subsidy until 2030).

These recommendations are required because:

In the absence of a known safe distance between wind turbines and occupied residences, the government must adopt a precautionary approach to protect people. The best precautionary approach is a moratorium on new wind farms.

In an industry that has operated with little regulation to date, strict regulation of noise compliance is necessary to protect people living in proximity to wind turbines.

Wind turbines are not reducing emissions in the electricity sector by the same amount that the industry is claiming and being subsidised.

The federally issued subsidy to wind farms (RECs) are paid for in the retail price of electricity which is paid by families, schools and hospitals. The retail price is set by power purchase agreements (PPAs) and amounts to billions every year. The subsidy issued to wind farms amounts to half a million dollars per turbine per year.

The new Renewable Energy Target (RET) of 33,000 GWh will require upwards of 2,500 new wind turbines to be built in rural areas across Australia.

Rural communities are caught unaware when they are canvassed to sign ‘Landholder Agreements’ and ‘Neighbour Benefit Schemes’ which sign away their personal and property rights.

Labor is vehemently in denial of the current issues, taking a completely unaffordable 50% RET to the next election. Furthermore, in their dissenting report, Labor refused to accept the evidence pointing to adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines.

The Greens refused to participate in the Inquiry at all.

I appreciate the support and interest by many State Councillors, especially Robyn Nolan, on this long term challenge.

Kind regards
Dr Chris Back
Liberal Senator for Western Australia

Chris Back

Wind Power Generation….as Fickle as the Weather!

US Wind Power Outfits Curse ‘El Niño’ for Massive & Mounting Losses

kites

****

STT has likened it to the great corporate Ponzi schemes, pointing out, just once or twice, that the wind industry is little more than the most recent and elaborate effort to fleece gullible investors, in a list that dates back to “corporate investment classics”, like the South-Sea Bubble and Dutch tulip mania.

In the wind industry, the scam is all about pitching bogus projected returns (based on overblown wind “forecasts”) (see our posts here andhere and here and here); claiming that wind turbines will run for 25 years, without the need for so much as an oil change (see our posts hereand here and here); and telling investors that massive government mandated subsidy schemes will outlast religion (see our posts here andhere and here).

In Britain, Wind Prospect Group has stopped paying dividends to its bond holders and has prevented them from cashing them in to recover their capital outlay:

Got Money in the Great Wind Power Ponzi Scheme? Then, Grab it & Get Out Now!

In Australia, one of the wind industry’s BIG players – Pacific Hydro – managed to rack up an annual loss of $700 million, last year; in circumstances where the subsidy scheme – on which its profits depend – hadn’t changed at all (see our post here).

Also in Australia, so-called ‘community wind farm’ operators have taken thousands for dupes, with wild claims about whopping profits to be had – all while ‘saving the planet’, of course:

Wind Power ‘Investors’ Cut & Run from Australia as Ponzi Scheme Implodes

At the heart of every great Ponzi scheme sits the “excuse”. Ploys, such as asking shareholders and creditors for “patience” – as the overblown, promised returns (surprise, surprise) fail to materialize.

And the scammers will happily toss up any other pitch capable of stalling those about to be fleeced, while the scheme’s organisers get ready to flee with their loot. The more scurrilous adding some gleeful touch to their pleas for ‘patience’, such as “don’t call us, we’ll call you”; or “the weather’s especially nice this time of year in [insert name of tropical paradise, with no Australian/American extradition treaty]”, say?

Over the last few months, the wind industry – facing calamitous financial results – has taken to blaming – of all things – the weather. Yep, that’s right it’s all the wind’s fault:

Australia’s Most Notorious Wind Power Outfit – Infigen – Blames $304 Million Loss on the WIND

Wind Power Ponzi Scheme Running Out of Puff

In America, US wind power outfits have taken to cursing El Niño – a naturally occurring phenomenon – that has seen winds slacken and losses mount among wind power outfits in the US. The delicious irony appears to be lost on the Neanderthals that people the wind industry, as this little article demonstrates.

El Niño Buffers US Wind Power ‘Dreams’
Wall Street Daily
Tim Maverick
21 September 2015

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made it official last week. The current El Niño is classified as a strong event.

An El Niño falls into the “strong” category if weekly sea surface temperatures depart from the average by more than two degrees Celsius.

In fact, this El Niño has nudged ahead of the 1997 El Niño as the strongest in the modern era!

Meteorologists believe this occurrence is actually the most potent since 1948. And it’s expected to persist through winter and into spring.

Every El Niño’s effects are different. At the moment, this one is having a surprisingly negative effect on the wind power industry in the United States.

A Little Too Quiet

You see, this occurrence of El Niño has produced the weakest winds across the United States in 40 years. Forecasters say this situation will continue and may even worsen through the spring of 2016.

This might not seem like such a big deal, at first. Wind isn’t a huge part of our country’s power generation, right? Not so fast.

Wind is no longer just a mere marginal source of power for the electric industry. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, wind power installations in the United States surged 800% last year. Our country is now the second largest user of wind power technology, behind only China.

Wind accounted for 4.4% of U.S. power generation in 2014. That’s up from just 1.9% five years ago. In some states, wind makes up an even larger chunk of power generation. Wind provides nearly 10% of electricity production in Texas and 7% in California.

The overall effect of these calm conditions is that electric output from U.S. wind farms fell by 6% in the first half of this year. That happened despite wind power capacity rising by 9%.

Overall, U.S. wind farms operated at only about a third of their total generating capacity in the first half of 2015.

An Ill Wind for Some Utilities

The lack of wind has had very real effects on some utilities, and also on some yieldcos.

These include the likes of NextEra Energy (NEE), NextEra Energy Partners (NEP), NRG Energy (NRG), NRG Yield (NYLD), Pattern Energy (PEGI), and even Duke Energy (DUK).

It’s a serious matter for these firms. The CEO of NRG Energy, David Crane, told analysts last month, “We never anticipated a drop-off in the wind resource as we have witnessed over the past six months.”

Even the rating agency Standard & Poor’s is weighing in. After downgrading some wind farm bonds, S&P stated, “Although our current expectation is that the wind resource will revert back to historical averages, at this time it is unclear when this will happen.”

It’s already been a tough 2015. Year to date, NEE is 10 % lower, PEGI fell 16.5%, DUK is down 18%, NEP fell 23%, NRG is down 31.5%, and NYLD is down a whopping 69%.

Of course, utilities have been hit by the rising interest rate expectations. But the lack of strong breezes in the United States has given a little tailwind to the downside for the wind power-related stocks.

Obviously, El Niño will eventually subside and wind patterns across the country will return to normal.

But until then, the wind power generation industry in the United States will continue to suffer. Shareholders in the wind-related yieldcos and utilities will continue to take a battering for an unknown amount of time.

Maybe they can somehow tap into the hot air generated by opponents of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. They’re having a field day right now with the Plan’s heavy reliance on fickle breezes.

Good investing, Tim Maverick
Wall Street Daily

June 2015 National

It’s a ‘fickle’ thing; to be sure. The picture above tells the woeful – weather driven – story of the performance during June 2015 of all wind farms connected to Australia’s Eastern Grid: with a combined capacity of 3,669MW – spanning 4 States and a geographical expanse of 632,755 km² – an area which is 2.75 times the combined area of England (130,395 km²) Scotland (78,387 km²) and Wales (20,761 km²) of 229,543 km². ‘Impressive’, don’t you think?

However, for the wind industry to air its dirty laundry in public demonstrates just how gormless these boys are.

You see, the whole subsidy-fuelled rort runs on “belief”.

“Belief” that a wholly weather dependent power generation source can provide meaningful electricity around the clock.

Until recently, the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers have maintained the line that the “wind is always blowing somewhere” and is, therefore, able to provide baseload power; “powering” millions of homes for “free”. The more deluded among them claiming that it can do so at prices even cheaper than the cheapest of all, coal-fired power (for a trip to fantasy-land tap into the nitwits over at ruin-economy).

But, now that bankers, investors and creditors have worked out that their debts and investments are in the hands of the Wind Gods – the scammers have been forced to come clean and admit that they have just about as much control over their financial situation, as they have over the weather. Funny about that.

yacht

Thanks to STT for Almost 3 Years of Educating the Public About the Wind Scam!

Costly & Pointless Wind Power Subsidies Slammed by Australia’s National Party

turbine fire 6

****

When STT cranked into gear in December 2012, hammering the wind industry was a fairly lonely occupation: hardly fashionable; a bit like wearing yellow to a funeral, really.

Back then, openly questioning the “wonders” of wind power was a guaranteed dinner party showstopper. Nervous hosts – choking on their organic pinot gris – would seek to segue to another less contentious topic – the joys of dancing cat videos, say; tempers might flare, among raised voices one of the more passionate would shout something about: “the science is settled man”.

The protagonist asserting that dreaded CO2 gas was an obvious planet killing “problem”; to which the only “solution” was carpeting the world in an endless sea of bat-chomping, bird slicing, blade-chucking, pyrotechnic,sonic-torture devices – not that the wound-up wind power advocate would have ever presented, let alone dealt with, minor issues like those, as part of his “we’ve gotta save the planet” manifesto.

But that was then, this is now.

Now, people with a modicum of intelligence – anything like an inquisitive nature; and gifted with a shred of logic – are able to unpick the fraud in several easy steps. Indeed, in discourse among those with an adult’s mental capacity it’s no longer a mortal sin these days to express the bleeding obvious: THESE THINGS DON’T WORK.

On the contrary, calling the great wind power fraud for what it is has become fashionable: for want of a better phrase it’s “the new black”.

For another look at the latest fashion trend, we’ll cross to a report on a motion to support the greatest economic and environmental fraud of all time – foolishly pitched to members of Australia’s National Party (the minority Party that forms the Federal Coalition government).

Nats Reject Renewables
The Land
Colin Bettles
17 September 2015

THE Federal National party’s weekend conference rejected a controversial motion calling for support of the renewable energy sector and the federal government to back related projects based in regional centres.

The motion was moved and spoken for strongly mostly by delegates from Western Australia who raised concerns about excessive costs and access to power generation in regional areas.

The WA delegation also expressed concerns the party must be progressive through a statement of support for renewable energy projects and seeking to capture future economic opportunities.

But a rear-guard action – spearheaded by former long-serving Queensland Senator Ron Boswell and current Queensland Hinkler MP Keith Pitt – saw the motion eventually defeated by a 43-34 vote.

Opponents of the motion, including Queensland National Party Womens’ president Theresa Craig, argued that renewable energy projects like wind farms were heavily subsidised by taxpayer funds which they opposed.

Ms Craig said, as a scientist and a regional person “I’d love to support this but I can’t because the facts do not add up”.

“Unfortunately the Green propaganda has not given us the facts,” she said.

“Today, 5 per cent of clean energy adds an extra 15pc to our utility bill; reference Queensland University of Technology.”

Ms Craig said research by the Heartland Institute had also said that every job created by the renewable energy sector meant two to three jobs were lost.

“Renewable energies are the way of the future but right at the moment it’s being subsidised,” she said.

“What we need to do is put the support into getting renewable energies that can stand on their-own two feet.

“We as farmers, don’t we have to stand on our own two feet?

“We have to do it by ourselves, so this needs to be done the same way for the renewable energy people.”

Young WA Nationals president Lachlan Hunter said he majored in agricultural science studies at UWA and believed the conference should “get over the semantics” and consider the motion’s intent.

Mr Hunter said the motion wasn’t saying coal should be “cut out” or remove the way energy is traditionally produced in Australia.

He said it was “simply saying we support the renewable energy sector and to have those projects based in regional centres”.

“Don’t get hung up on the words ‘renewable energy’ just because it’s related to the Greens,” he said.

“I think we can be proactive in this space and actually support it if the science does prove that it’s out there and it’s a sustainable industry.”

Newly elected WA Nationals president James Hayward also spoke strongly for the motion saying its critics had strayed “well beyond what it’s about”.

He said the reality was, “sustainable energy is something that we need to embrace in some form”.

“Windmills that chop up birds are perhaps not the answer,” he said.

“This motion does not say (renewable energy) is the answer; it says this space needs to be part of who we are and what we do.

“We cannot allow the Greens or Labor to take responsibility for looking after our space, our environment.

“We’ve got a generation of younger people growing up and those people, for whatever reason, are simply more connected to the idea of looking after the environment and we need to grasp and get hold of that.

“This motion doesn’t talk about offering financial incentives.

“It just says it’s on the radar for us and we know that technology is out there and part of the future and we need to embrace it.”

But Mr Boswell returned fire with an impassioned plea saying he was “vehemently” against the motion.

“Whichever way you cut and dice this motion the motion goes out that says you support renewable energy,” he said.

Mr Boswell said his advice to Mr Hayward, gained by serving a number of years in federal parliament, was “don’t ever try and be a Green”.

“Don’t ever try and be one (a Green) because you are neither the Nationals or a Green and you just lose everyone so let’s be distinct about what we stand for,” he said.

Mr Boswell said subsidies on renewable energy were impacting energy prices and adding to agricultural production or processing costs in areas like beef, grains and dairy.

“You are paying through the nose for this renewable energy,” he said.

“Rural Australia is probably paying more than anyone else for it.

“It will only work if it’s subsidised and who’s going to pay for it, you are.”

WA Mining and Pastoral Region MLC Dave Grills said those in favour of the motion were asking the Nationals Australia to support renewable energy and were not asking for billions and billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars.

“We’re asking for your support to do it because economically, it suits regional WA,” he said.

Another speaker, representing Wide Bay in Queensland said, “I’m totally over it with my tax dollars paying for subsidies for renewable energy windmills”.

“I resent my birds in this nation being chopped sliced and diced by these devices.”

Mr Pitt said there was a place for renewables for remote power generation but that decision should be made by those who distribute it.

He said under the current agreed, Renewable Energy Target ET of 33,000 gigawatt hours, as much capacity as has been produced in last 15 years, will need to be built in five years.

Mr Pitt said renewable energy certificates on an average of $47 would, over the next 15 years, cost electricity users $24 billion – but could go as high as $93 costing $43 billion.

“Every single job in renewables is subsidised to the tune of $200,000,” he said.

Queensland LNP speaker Rohan McPhee said the purpose of the motion had been misconstrued.

“We’re not calling for the federal government to go out and start paying for wind farms in regional towns,” he said.

“This is just encouraging innovation and investment in renewable energy.

“Whether or not you believe in climate change – and we can debate that for days – but the fact of the matter is the world consensus is it’s here and whether we like it or not we have to get with the program.

“We’re going to be left behind.

“Australia has such a great landscape for innovation in this area we’ve got so much space – we’ve got sun and wind and we’ve got so much potential to develop new technologies in the renewable energy sector.

“It’s a global market and the renewable energy market is growing every day for new technology.

“The fear I have is that if we don’t support this motion we don’t send a message to potential businesses that can grow and innovate new technology and we get left behind.”
The Land

An obvious battle for common sense there, but, thankfully they got there in the end. STT always cringes when arguments are peppered with nineties-inanities like “proactive” and “sustainable”. It’s a sign that the protagonist hasn’t really got anything to say, but is keen to be heard, just the same.

Ron Boswell

****

The ‘meat and potatoes’, was helpfully dished up by long-time STT Champion, Ron Boswell and relative new-comer, Keith Pitt.

Ron targeting the cost of the wind power debacle to real, productive industries; and Keith Pitt ripping into the insane cost of the single largest corporate welfare scheme ever devised.

Keith Pitt – an electrical engineer – gets it. His speech to Parliament back in June is clearly worth a re-run. Here it is.

Mr PITT (Hinkler) (18:34): I will not be supporting the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2015 that is currently before the Australian parliament. In my view, the renewable energy target—the RET, the deal the coalition has been forced into with Labor—will achieve only three things. It will increase the cost of electricity for those who can least afford it, Australian taxpayers will have spent billions of dollars subsidising private enterprise, and, come 2020, environmentalists will have little more to show for it than a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Let me explain. When I entered parliament in 2013 I was still a registered professional electrical engineer in the state of Queensland, and I promised to be a common-sense voice for the people of Hinkler and regional Australia. Over the past 18 months the issue raised most often with my office has been the spiralling cost of electricity—and for good reason. The median personal income in Hinkler is just $411 a week—just $411. A substantial number of pensioners call Hinkler home, and we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Unfortunately, many of Hinkler’s major employers are making workforce decisions based on the cost of energy—local foundries, farmers and manufacturers all say their overheads are rising at an unsustainable rate. Any relief businesses and households might have felt with the repeal of Labor’s carbon tax quickly turned to dismay when Queensland electricity retailers substantially increased their tariffs. The end result was a net price increase of about five per cent. It is no coincidence that in 2013-14 the number of households in regional Queensland disconnected for debt or non-payment rose 87 per cent to 12,454. The Fraser Coast Chronicle last week reported that the local Meals on Wheels electricity bill jumped from $5,700 to $12,200 in just one year. The not-for-profit organisation says it has only two choices if it is to remain viable: to either increase the price of the meals or find $85,000 to buy solar panels.

What is the solution? I have heard politicians on both sides tell people to shop around for the best rate. That might be possible in the capital cities, but there is generally only one retailer in most regional communities. The lack of market competition will only worsen if the Queensland Labor government proceeds with its plan to merge state-owned corporations Ergon, Energex and Powerlink. The merger, combined with already high electricity prices, falling energy consumption and the renewable energy target, will result in substantial job losses in the energy sector. We heard a lot from the Electrical Trades Union during the January 2015 state election, but why aren’t they out there actively fighting for their members’ jobs right now?

In his second reading speech to this bill, the Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, said the renewable energy target introduced by the Rudd government resulted in:

… new subsidised capacity … being forced into an oversupplied electricity market …

I appreciate the government is trying to put the RET on a sustainable footing, but, in my view, this current legislation will still result in an increase in power prices, paid for by the people who can least afford it. Australians are using less electricity now than they were 10 years ago. The AEMO Electricity statement of opportunities report in August 2014 stated:

More than 7,500 MW would need to be removed from the market to affect supply-adequacy in 2014-15.

There is potentially between 7,650 MW and 8,950 MW of surplus capacity across the NEM in 2014-15.

Under any risk scenario, no additional capacity is required for at least 10 years. It also states that approximately 90 per cent of this excess is in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. Furthermore: As operational consumption grows, the level of surplus capacity decreases. However, even with 10 years of consumption growth, by 2023-24 between 1,100 MW and 3,100 MW of capacity could still be withdrawn from each of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria without breaching the reliability standard.

The problem is that forecast consumption is expected to fall by 1.1 per cent per year at a minimum.

Current renewable technologies like wind and solar do not reliably generate power on a constant basis, and so the baseload coal or gas fired power stations still have to maintain capacity for peak use times when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. Most of that peak occurs in the evening, after dark and, in many locations, when it is calm. Without some type of affordable storage system, there is no option but to maintain baseload power, and that will continue to force up the price of electricity. Put simply, if your running costs remain the same and you are selling less product, the next logical step is to increase the price of the product to be able to maintain your operations.

However, the Australian Energy Regulator, the AER, has advised of its plans to restrict Ergon Energy’s proposed revenue by 27 per cent over the next five years, well below the $8.24 billion that Ergon requested. The measure is expected to save Ergon customers between $16 and $44 in network charges on their bills each year. The savings would have been substantially higher if not for the exorbitant feed-in tariff offered to solar users by the former Queensland Labor government. In very simple terms, the AER makes its decisions based on how much the businesses need to spend delivering electricity prudently through the distribution network, putting an end to the so-called ‘gold-plating’ that occurred in the Beattie years. The AER says any costs above efficient levels are to be funded by the network owners and not the customers. On the one hand, federally we are trying to keep power prices down for consumers by reducing the operating expenses and revenue of electricity companies; but, on the other hand, our current environmental policies are inflating the price of electricity because, without baseload power, you have to start turning the lights off.

The public expects coal fired energy companies to maintain the same availability and readiness, but the renewable energy target encourages people to use more renewables in an already oversupplied market. To give you a simple example, I spoke with a pensioner in my electorate last week. He gets up in the middle of the night, each and every night, to turn off his refrigerator so he does not use as much electricity. He relies on his rooftop solar to power the fridge during the day, and he would rather risk food poisoning than run up an electricity bill that he cannot afford to pay.

I would support the move towards renewable energy if wind, solar and battery technology actually worked—meaning if it were capable of reliably supplying electricity during peak periods to replace traditional baseload power generators. Plus, the cost at this point in time is astronomical.

Under this bill, $15 billion will be spent over the next five years on infrastructure that will run concurrently with coal fired generators, supplying into a market that is excessively supplied. Broad estimates by the department indicate that renewable energy certificates from 2015 to 2030, at an average of $47 per certificate, will cost $24 billion. If the RECs are allowed to reach penalty at $93, the cost to users will be $43 billion. Can you imagine the response if we went to the Australian people and said they needed to contribute an additional $43 billion through their electricity pricing as a surcharge? To meet the target, Australia will need to build as many renewable generators in five years as we have built over the past 15—all of which will need to be replaced in the short to medium term, when the technology outdates and the equipment deteriorates. Putting aside the cost of building the infrastructure, renewable energy is extremely expensive to generate. Coal fired power costs about $36 per megawatt hour to produce, compared to $190 per megawatt hour for solar and up to $120 for wind. If renewable energy were a sound investment, governments would not need to subsidise private businesses with renewable energy certificates.

I find it absurd that we on the conservative side of politics have abandoned the stated belief in the free market to reach a deal with Labor. Labor’s recalcitrance will only hurt the very people they always purport to represent, and that is the poor. The Coalition’s Direct Action Plan costs around $14.50 per tonne of carbon abated at its first auction. That is compared to $25 under Labor’s carbon tax and a whopping $95 to $175 per tonne of carbon abated through the renewable energy target for the small systems scheme. Rather than subsidising jobs in private renewable energy businesses to the tune of almost $200,000 each over the period 2015 to 2030, we should be spending taxpayers’ funds on research to advance renewable technologies that have real promise—growing our fuel, finding cheap and effective storage sources and ensuring ongoing jobs in Australian manufacturing through competitive energy pricing. The enormous buckets of money thrown at renewable research by Labor was haphazard and predominantly unsuccessful in large-scale trials.

I have personally worked in hydro power stations that have been operational for more than 50 years and they will continue to work into the future. These plants provide a multiplying effect into the local economy, providing water storage, generating capacity and long-term infrastructure with real benefits. They are a true renewable, with their energy source replenished every time it rains. The greatest of these installations is, of course, the Snowy hydro scheme. Hydros can be used as peakers. They are flexible and can be run up quickly, and at night, when there is no wind or sun, they still work.

If you really want to do something about emissions, we need to be having a proper debate about zero-emission next-generation nuclear technology. If you want renewables, we should consider growing the fuel source. Spend money on research for natural fuel sources such as biomass, where every year 100 per cent of the fuel supply can be regrown, providing long-term jobs. There is a proposal floating around for loans for irrigators to install solar pumps. Unfortunately, they will only be able to irrigate when the sun is shining—and it is back to the bad old days of watering in the middle of the day, when evaporation is at its highest. All of those years of water-use efficiency and capital installation down the drain. Typically, irrigation only occurs during times of low rainfall and drought, when water is scarce, but it is either be killed by electricity bills or invest in capital.

The public perception is that we have not done enough with respect to renewable energy. In fact, there was a large amount of capacity before the target was even set. The price of installing rooftop PV solar has fallen substantially. In terms of installed capacity, that is, gigawatts, rather than generation, that is, gigawatt hours, coal is currently only providing around 50 per cent of the energy mix. To even come close to meeting the target set in this bill, around 1,500 to 2,000 wind turbines would need to be built. Wind turbines are intrusive, ineffectual and always best placed in your neighbour’s property, and out of view of your own. The remaining sites capable of having any chance of even 30 per cent utilisation for wind turbines are very limited, because you need a location where the wind blows consistently, of which there are not that many. And it should be close to where the energy is used.

Do I honestly think they can install the capacity needed to meet the reduced target? My answer is no. We will be back having this debate again in two or three years’ time, when it becomes apparent that even huge subsidies will not be enough to get sufficient facilities built. If you want to subsidise businesses, subsidise exporters that create long-term jobs. Do not subsidise businesses that devalue and destroy assets already predominantly owned by the taxpayer.

Every business owner in my electorate would like to have the upper hand against their competitors. They would love to receive a guaranteed price for the products they produce, regardless of need, subsidised by someone else. If—and I say if—Australia meets its 2020 renewable energy target, it will not be because we have created an economically self-sustaining, reliable source of renewable energy. People will be using less coal-fired electricity for one reason only: they simply cannot afford it.

Hansard, 2 June 2015

keith pitt