Power to the peo­ple

The Daily Examiner - - NEWS ENVIRONMENT -


LATE last year Re­new Econ­omy’s Giles Parkin­son pointed out that an in­creas­ing num­ber of busi­nesses as well as in­di­vid­u­als are turn­ing to re­new­ables to cut their power bills.

UK bil­lion­aire San­jeev Gupta plans to build a one-gi­gawatt power sys­tem con­sist­ing of large-scale so­lar, bat­tery stor­age, pumped hy­dro and de­mand man­age­ment for the Whyalla steel­works and other big en­ergy-users in South Aus­tralia. He ex­pects this to re­duce his com­pany’s en­ergy bills by about 40 per cent.

Other busi­ness ex­am­ples are Nec­tar Farms’ in­vest­ment of $750 mil­lion in wind and bat­tery stor­age for a new glass house and en­ergy park near Stawell (Vic­to­ria) and Zinc Met­als, a North Queens­land zinc re­finer, which is turn­ing to so­lar to cut its power bills.

Parkin­son points out that while the cost of so­lar has fallen by 90 per cent in the last five years and the cost of bat­tery stor­age is also drop­ping, the cost of grid power has more than dou­bled.

He claims this price in­crease has “lit­tle to do with the cost of tech­nolo­gies or the cost of ser­vice”.

“It’s more about the greed of the in­cum­bents, the mo­nop­oly that own the net­works, and the oli­gop­ol­ies that con­trol the whole­sale mar­kets and dominate the re­tail scene, and the to­tally in­ad­e­quate su­per­vi­sion by the reg­u­la­tors,” he said.

“Amid all this, and with the op­por­tu­ni­ties that abound in Aus­tralia with its re­sources in so­lar, wind, know-how and smart soft­ware, and the op­por­tu­nity for a ma­jor re­duc­tion in emis­sions, what does the con­sumer get from the politi­cians and some of the prin­ci­pal reg­u­la­tors?”

Parkin­son claims the con­sumer gets “com­plete and ut­ter non­sense” from both politi­cians and reg­u­la­tors.

He refers to the Coali­tion’s war against re­new­ables which “is based on wild myths, ig­no­rance and prej­u­dice”.

The reg­u­la­tors for their part have al­lowed the Na­tional En­ergy Mar­ket to be “rorted, gamed, ma­nip­u­lated, abused and priced to the point of ab­sur­dity, where busi­nesses are now clos­ing and low-in­come folk are go­ing without food or other nec­es­sary items – and those who can are in­vest­ing in their own so­lar power and stor­age.”

— Leonie Blain, Clarence Val­ley Con­ser­va­tion Coali­tion

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