Australian news, and some related international items

Turnbull’s lack of energy policy: it won’t help for him to blame renewables

No summer break for Turnbull government’s energy policy failure, Brisbane Times Richard Denniss, 28 July 17  “….. The failure of the federal government on energy policy is driving up emissions, driving up energy prices, stalling investment and harming consumers. And hasn’t it been a cold winter. Unless the Turnbull government can soon pull energy policy out of the bog Tony Abbott created, no amount of blaming the states or renewables is going to save him…….

while the ACT government is going to help people keep their heater on, the federal government is doing its best to keep them shivering.

ActewAGL said it will be establishing a $250,000 Energy Support Fund, matched by the ACT government, to help those who will struggle to pay their bigger electricity bill. In contrast, the Turnbull government currently has a bill before Parliament which will strip the clean energy supplement from new recipients of welfare from 20 September 2017.

Abolishing the clean energy supplement will put Newstart recipients 30 per cent below the poverty line, the lowest point since the measure has been kept.

So what is driving up electricity prices and forcing people to turn off their heaters? Craig Kelly blamed renewables, but he also said renewables would cause an increase in children drowning. The Australia Institute studied both wholesale and retail electricity prices and – spoiler alert – it’s not solar panels.

The federal government has used South Australia as a whipping boy on energy. But when we look at wholesale electricity prices in South Australia in detail, there is an almost perfect correlation between wholesale gas prices and wholesale electricity prices and a negative correlation between the share of wind generation in supply and wholesale electricity prices. In other words, it’s nothing to do with renewables and everything to do with gas exports……..

We’ve all heard about the “gold-plating” of poles and wires – well, it turns out poles and wires weren’t the only things gold-plated: privatisation seems to have encouraged profit gouging, with energy companies able to inflate the asset base used in calculating the permitted return on assets. The Australia Institute’s research showed an odd process in which high rates of profits are used to “gold plate” the financial asset base of energy companies without improving the ability to generate electricity, but the unproductive capital base is used to increase the price we pay for electricity.

So what should Turnbull do?

If he gives in to the extreme right wing of the Coalition, it’s a recipe for higher emissions, higher prices and more instability. They want to abolish the Renewable Energy Target, which even the government’s own review (by climate sceptic Dick Warburton) found that the Renewable Energy Target put downwards pressure on electricity prices. They oppose a Clean Energy Target that doesn’t include coal – when according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, ultra-supercritical coal-fired power (ever think they’re trying too hard with that title?) is the most expensive form of new energy to build. Gas prices now make new gas-fired plants equally unappealing. So renewable energy makes the most economic sense…….


July 29, 2017 - Posted by | General News

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