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Lights off: Part III

By Kellie Tranter - posted Thursday, 13 January 2011

This article follows on from Part I and Part II.

It's fairly obvious from this brief historical conspectus that privatisation is an agenda that's been force fed by the self interested to NSW Labor governments over the last 15 years, and swallowed wholeheartedly. Even Blind Freddy could see that proper consideration has not been given to viable, sustainable long-term alternatives like solar energy.

And if the boobs in Macquarie Street can only be transfixed by the siren song of the Wall Street players, what about paying a little attention to what Warren Buffett's "senior" associate, Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway, has said about the future of solar energy.


But no, not in New South Wales: if it's clean, renewable and socially and environmentally responsible, let’s axe it. Pardon? Given the prevailing mentality I guess it's only natural that such a commodity should actually be blamed for rising electricity bills!

What the government also fails to trot out are figures to show us how special deals for large users of electricity add to our quarterly bills? How many of those large energy users are on negotiated, guaranteed fixed prices for their electricity, at rates which mean they’re effectively subsidised by householders? Are we given details of those users and their effect on the system's capacity? Oh no, we can't disclose information like that: it's "commercial in confidence"!

NSW started with very positive schemes to encourage alternative energy sources, but those of us who install solar panels from now on receive only 20c per kwh to feed energy back into the grid, whereas those whose installations occurred between Jan 1 and October get 60c kwh for seven years. And the gloomy prediction from the big side of town is that paying for those already receiving 60c kwh will add an extra 10% to bills, on top of increases of up to 16% consumers will be facing anyway! They don't mention that 20c is much less than the conventional payment of a little over 40c per kwh, and no plausible reason has been given for such a complete about-face

Giles Parkinson of the Climate Spectator has written a detailed and informed series of articles about NSW’s Solar Scheme.

If one were to take a cynical approach one might think the scrapping of the NSW Solar Scheme was somehow connected to and contingent on the electricity sale proceeding


But just look at what is happening on the solar front notwithstanding our government’s best efforts.


2008 data for Australian households indicates that 67% used spatial cooling and 77% used spatial heating. Spatial heating/cooling comprises 41% of household energy costs. Water heating accounts for 24% and other appliances about 13%. Plasma televisions consume almost three times more power than older versions.

We have already read about the development of extremely efficient solar-powered air-conditioning systems that will not only lighten the load on the mains transmissions grid, but also address the huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the use of air conditioners. It won’t be long before systems like that are on the market here, whether Australian made or from China.

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About the Author

Kellie Tranter is a lawyer and human rights activist. You can follow her on Twitter @KellieTranter

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