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Malcolm and the Energy Bosses: What they might say

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The Prime Minister has summoned some of the big energy company bosses to Canberra for a chat. With a bit of insight into how big energy companies think, so we took a look at how it might pan out…

MalcolmTurnbullFlickr

PM: Thank you all for coming.

Big Boss 1: Why are all the TV cameras here?

PM: To record this momentus event.

Big boss 2: Someone will leak the transcript anyway.

Big boss 3: Will you be as nice to us as you were to Trump?

PM: Now, I want to talk about these unaffordable bills.

Big boss 2: I, for one, struggle with my energy bills. That’s largely because I’ve never seen one in my house.

PM: Actually, how does all this work?

Big boss 1 (BB 1): Australia operates one of the most incredible energy infrastructures in the world.

BB 2: Yes, we have incredible poles, wires and massive power stations. You can get some really moody photos of them at the right time of day.

PM: So, why are prices going up?

BB 1: There are a number of reasons for that.

BB 2: Yes, a lot of reasons. Many reasons. Too many to go into right now.

PM: Give me an example of one of those reasons.

BB 1: Policy.

PM: What?

BB 2: No Policy. You haven’t given us a policy.

PM: You need a policy to stop gouging customers?

BB 3: You’ve worked for a bank, Malc, you get how this works.

PM: True. Ah, those were the good old days.

BB 1: Will there be anything else today?

PM: Let me check with my adviser.

BB3: It was marvellous to see you at the club at the weekend, BB2.

BB2: I agree. I hope your helicopter ride on the way back wasn’t too bumpy in the win-

PM: Right. I need to know what customers pay for energy in Australia.

BB1: Not much. We have some incredible discounts.

BB2: Same here.

BB3: We do too.

PM: What are the discounts off?

BB1: Ours are off a special number.

BB2: We discount from our own special number.

BB3: Only God can decide what our special number should be.

PM: So you all have made up discounts off numbers you also make up?

BB2: That’s a gross simplification. This is a very complex industry.

BB3: Yes, frankly not even we properly understand it.

PM: Alright, alright. What’s an average price that a customer pays?

BB1: It depends.

BB2: Yes, that’s right, it depends. Lots of factors affect this.

PM: Well what’s the headline price?

BB1: Which one? The special one or the one with the cheeky discount?

PM: Just give me both:

BB1: 17 cents per kWh

PM: And the other one?

BB1: 25 cents per kWh

PM: So there’s a 32% difference between your two made up numbers?

BB1: That’s one way of looking at it.

PM: What’s the difference between the cheap option and the expensive option?

BB1: The price.

PM: Nothing else?

BB1: Well, if you’re on the big price we promise we’ll call you lots and lots and lots of times when you try to leave.

PM: How is that a benefit to the customer?

BB3: The who?

PM: The c-u-s-t-o-m-e-r

BB3: Not with you, sorry.

PM: You know, voters, people.

BB3: Oh the people who pay us you mean?

PM: Yes.

BB3: I see, I’m with you now. What was the question again?

PM: Why don’t you just charge all customers the same price?

BB2: Why don’t we what?

BB1: Can I ask for my lawyer to be present?

BB3: Did those TV cameras go? What’s the back way out of this joint, Malc?

PM: Help me. What’s driving up power prices? Give me the reasons.

BB1: Policy.

PM: Don’t mention that again.

BB2: Wholesale prices.

PM: And what’s driving up wholesale prices?

BB3: Lots of things. It’s very complicated.

PM: I get briefed by my security agencies about matters so complex they’d make your toenails curl, so try me.

BB3: The French. It was the French.

PM: What did they do?

BB1: They shut a power station.

PM: Wasn’t it one of the least efficient and dirtiest in the world?

BB2: Maybe.

PM: And wasn’t the market already over-supplied?

BB3: Er, maybe.

PM: So how does taking capacity out of an over-supplied market increase wholesale prices so much?

BB3: South Australia.

PM: What have they got to do with energy prices in Victoria and NSW?

BB3: Now this one really is complicated.

PM: Trump was more fun than this.

BB3: We had some, errrr, technical issues during a NSW heatwave last summer.

PM: Like what?

BB2: Oh yeah Malc, this is a really good one. Go on BB3, tell him how you did it!

BB3: Actually….

BB1: Oh please y’all, I’ll do it. So they were running 2 power stations in the heatwave. One burned expensive gas. One cheap coal.

BB2: Yeah next thing there was a ‘technical problem’ with the gas station. That sent wholesale prices up by 70 times what they were a few minutes earlier. Seventy!

PM: So they lost money?

BB3: Guys I don’t think we need to go int…

BB1: This is the best bit. The coal station was much bigger so they absolutely creamed it for the next couple of hours.

BB2: Caviar at Cafe Sydney that night BB3?

BB1: Or did you buy a new racehorse?

BB2: Horses, yes, now they’re a sign of wealth than our customers can only dream of.

BB1: Well, only if they’re purebred racers. Not just ordinary horses.

PM: I truly see what’s wrong with this industry now.

BB1: Can we talk about energy policy.

PM: You think a bit of energy policy will change all this behaviour?

BB2: It’d help.

BB3: And it’d be easier to get through your backbench than same sex marriage.

BB1: Yeah, you’re really screwed on that one. So to speak.

PM: What are you going to do to lower energy bills?

BB1: Send them by email.

PM: What else?

BB1: I’ll have to check.

BB2: Good grief no, I have someone take care of that for me.

BB3: I get them from customers every day, normally with large and heavily pressed biro marks virtually tearing holes in the page.

PM: What do you do with them?

BB3: Nothing. I mean when I say “I get them” I don’t actually get them. Little people take care of that stuff.

PM: Will batteries help?

BB1: You mean Elon’s big SA battery?

BB2: Won’t make a difference. We’ve been steadily adding heaps of profit into the daily charge anyway.

PM: What about household batteries

BB2: Same. Massive daily charges. Can’t do much about those.

BB3: Then there’s the 30 minute market settlement rule. We’re fighting for any change to a 5 minute rule to take years.

BB1: Yes, years and years. It’s very complex.

BB2: We’re also lobbying to make sure household batteries need to be placed within nuclear bunkers with 3 metre-think concrete walls

BB3: Can you believe Standards Australia has fallen for that!?

BB2: Isn’t it beautiful? I must thank them next time we play a round at Royal Melbourne.

PM: We’re all f*cked.

BB2: Are you thinking about the same sex marriage problem again?

PM: What can I do? I need a win on power prices.

BB3: Squeeze out new entrants. We’re doing a good job of that.

BB2: Yeah, you do the rest and we promise we’ll be nice.

BB1: Pinky promise.

PM: Get out.

BB3: Make us.

BB2: We’ll trip all our power stations if you don’t play nicely.

BB3: And we won’t help you build your nice new coal one. No one else will help you.

PM: What do we say to the press? I need a positive outcome from this meeting.

BB2: Tell them you beat us up real hard.

BB3: Yes, we’re willing to be humiliated like that.

BB1: Someone will leak the transcript anyway, so we’ll be fine.

PM: Get out.

Adrian Merrick is CEO of Energy Locals, a new community focused energy retailer, and a former senior executive with one of the big three gen-tailers.  

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