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Queenslanders blame something they don’t have – renewables – for rising energy bills

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A new Galaxy poll  published by the Murdoch media claims that around half of Queenslanders blame renewable energy for their rising power bills – a disturbing finding that suggests Murdoch media readers actually believe the stuff they read in the Murdoch press.

“Queenslanders are blaming renewable energy for their surging power prices, forcing them to cut spending on holidays, dinners and clothes to cover the costs,” the Murdoch-owned Courier Mail announced on Saturday.

“Most Queenslanders have also backed a proposal for a new coal-fired power station in the north of the state to help drive economic opportunities and bring down prices.”

The story said the Galaxy poll found 47 per cent blamed renewables, while just 14 per cent thought they were keeping prices down. Some 28 per cent thought they were having no impact. One Nation supporters hated renewables most, with 62 per cent blaming them for price rises.

There was no information about whether any of the people thought that soaring network prices and the sharp jump in wholesale prices – mostly due to the bidding practices of the state-owned coal and gas generators – had anything to do with it.

That’s because they were not asked. Galaxy told RenewEconomy that the 902 people responding to the poll commissioned by the Courier-Mail were only asked if they thought renewables were at fault.

It proves only one of two things thing – that the campaign against renewables by the Murdoch media seems to work among its readership, or that the Murdoch media is trying to convince itself that it does.

Energy analyst Bruce Mountain estimates that the cost of large and small scale renewables for an average household in Queensland consuming 4.8MWh per year is about $67 per year. That’s out of a total bill of more than $1,713.

And blaming renewables is a little ironic because Queensland actually doesn’t have any large scale renewable energy to speak of.

Until a few months ago there was only an ageing 12MW wind farm in the far north of the state, although a 20MW solar farm was opened at Barcaldine, and late last month 15MW solar farm in the Sunshine Coast, a $50 million investment that will deliver savings of more than $22 million after all costs.

The Queensland Competition Authority has been giving the anti-renewables brigade a helping hand, deciding that the retailers should be allowed to charge consumers the maximum price for renewable energy certificates, bought for projects that the retailers hadn’t built.

Everyone knows that the reason the LGC trading price has hit the roof is because little wind and solar was built around the country for a few years while the politicians wrestled with Tony Abbott’s attempts to kill the industry completely – a goal he and many others in the Coalition has not given up on.

Wind and solar farms are now being built – there is a rush of them in Queensland, including this latest 1,000MW project,  but the contracts being signed give little or no value to the LGCs.

This was a point made by the Canegrowers association which pointed out that QCA’s advisors, ACIL Allen, had effectively rewarded there retailers for doing nothing and were allowing them to recoup 50 per cent more than they should.

“The charges identified appear to be set for a marginal retailer that has no long-term offtake contracts in place and has not made an investment in renewable energy capacity,” Canegrowers wrote.

“The QCA approach to setting the LGC component of prices is likely to deliver Ergon a windfall trading gain in the purchase of its certificates.”

Too right, but ACIL Allen and QCA both dismissed this argument, adding yet another line to the growing instances of regulator hand-washing of the cynical  manoeuvrings of the incumbent energy lobby.

But even adding in the maximum amount they could possible imagine for the cost of wind and solar farms that they didn’t build – it still ended up as a negligible component of the whole bill.

And that includes the impact of rooftop solar. Queensland has more of this than any other state, over 1.72GW, but as the state generators have complained, this is pushing down prices from where they would be. And most households with solar are still getting such generous tariffs they are not paying a bill.

The big increases of course have been network costs – Hugh Grant has written extensively of the extraordinary profits made by networks in recent years, and David Leitch reinforces this point in our latest Energy Insider podcast – and in wholesale energy costs.

These – it has been clear to everyone, including the Queensland government – have been the result of the bidding patterns of the two dominance government owned generators.

The manipulation of the markets – perfectly legal it should be added, because that is what the electricity rules allow them to do – was put to a stop when the Labor government suddenly remembered they had an election early next year.

It instructed the generators to change their bidding patterns, a decision that means Queensland now has the lowest wholesale prices in the country, not the equal highest as it has in recent years. and the government further moved to limit retail price rises in their regulated environment.

The irony of the Galaxy survey is that the new wind and solar farms in regional Queensland – which the Murdoch media has campaigned so hard against – will help wholesale prices fall further. Indeed, it is the only option.

 

  

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  • trackdaze

    Whats was that jackie mcdonald intro song on hey hey its satuday?
    Folks are dumb were I come from.

  • Peter F

    Not entirely true David, they do have about 1.7GW of grid connected renewables. There are still a lot of Queenslanders on premium tariffs who are notionally being paid by other customers.
    Having said that the idea that they are driving costs is as you say bunkum

    • trackdaze

      Its roughly 50% and falling that get the 44c tariff. To the point that the average cost of solar power to the grid is now below socket parity.

      the uptake effectivley ensured the lights didnt go out in qld as there was likely to be a generation shortfall with no largescale generation coming online.

  • KiwiInOz

    The old push polling gambit.

    • Joe

      …always works a treat

  • Ken Dyer

    The Murdoch media has an iron grip on the Queensland public. There are no credible alternative views that can be canvassed because of the Murdoch media tsunami. If Queenslanders were not subjected to the amount of brain washing from politicians and the media that they are, they might just be apply to apply some common sense to how renewables favourably impact them, and how they can benefit.

    • Geremida

      whoa! That’s rather a sweeping generalisation. Take a look at the circulation figures for the Courier Mail and you’ll find that there are huge numbers of banana benders that never look at News Corp papers. I don’t know anyone that reads them. I haven’t seen the Galaxy poll but it seems miles apart from what recent Essential polls tell us. As for the “promise” of a new coal generator, I’m thinking that that is what it’ll stay. Also remember that household PV takeup is the highest in Australia at near 30% – http://reneweconomy.com.au/australias-top-solar-states-and-suburbs-23048/ So it’s hard to see those folks strongly against renewables.

      • Ken Dyer

        Remember that a couple of Queensland’s most “famous” citizens are Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts.
        Here is an example of the brain washing by News Corp on 26/6/17
        http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/newspoll-queensland-one-nation-vote-unaffected-by-paulines-perils/news-story/d0bd33e18f05a986ff78266a529dddec
        Yet about 2 months earlier, this Conversation article shows up the bullshit News Corp peddles.
        http://theconversation.com/queensland-galaxy-52-48-to-labor-as-one-nation-slumps-76700
        Why is it that people will vote for a political party that wants to cut penalty rates for low paid workers yet resists increasing the income taxes for millionaires?

      • Russell Yann

        As a former resident of Far North Queensland, you had the choice of the Cairns Post, The Australian and in Townsville, The Bulletin, plus the Courier Mail. (All Murdoch) The only alternative was the AFR, but this is now edited and run by a former Newscorp lackey. That said, there is a significant minority of progressives but, this component of the electorate is spread out. Therefore with the 2 party system only without an upper house where typically a more proportional outcome is used the results are biased to the MSM desires.

        • Marcus L

          Hopefully more and more are going online and reading quality news publications like the Saturday Paper, The Guardian, The Conversation and of course, Reneweconomy. I stopped getting my news from Murdoch and commercial TV years ago.

          • Darren

            as a current nth qld’er I can advise unfortunately not. They switch off online so they dont have to see it. so outside of print, its the tv/radio.

            Trying to talk to people and explain it is so very tiring, and the worst thing is they dont want to know.

            “its on the tv it must be true”

    • MaxG

      Well, while I am claiming the people are stupid! They ‘chose’ to listen and read this stuff; nobody says they have to… you’ve figured it out, so can they, but the wilful ignorant are called that for a reason.

      Common sense… long gone…

  • john

    Expecting the Murdoch Media to actually print factual information is now lamentably not going to happen.
    This really saddens me as the once company had some principles now it seems all gone down the drain.
    Or by the way not every Queenslander is blaming Renewable Energy for the rise in Electricity Prices.
    Perhaps just a few actually have a few brain cells still working and see through the fog and rubbish as printed by the Murdoch Media.

    • MaxG

      Like the name you’ve used: Murdoch Press; exactly what is is; not to confuse with Free Press, the 4th pillar of democracy which is non-existent for many years…

    • Joe

      The sooner we get that North Qld HELE Cleeeeen Coaler built the better for our QLD cousins. I can’t bare them struggling another day with their crippling… dirty FF Energy Bills.

  • Philip Marano

    no mention of the state government ripping billions out of electricity to prop up state revenue

  • derekbolton

    As I understand it, the question posed was whether renewables had increased prices, not whether it was the primary driver of the increase. So no evidence they blame it on renewables.

  • Alex Hromas

    Blaming renewables for rising energy costs is not new various Liberal parliamentarians have

  • Peter Campbell

    “there was only an ageing 12MW wind farm in the far north of the state”
    I saw it recently. The turbines and their towers seemed almost quaint and cute. They would be dwarfed by modern standards.

    • Greg Hudson

      I believe General Electric now has a single turbine that can generate 10MW, so I can see what you mean by ‘quaint’…

      • Peter Campbell

        Yes. I had neighbours who were outraged back in 2008 by the sight of my then 1.44kW PV system on the roof of my townhouse. Now it passes almost unremarked when other neighbours put up PV at 4x that size.

        • Greg Hudson

          I’m just about to install a 6kW starter pack (again). Third house (that I’ve owned) that I’ve installed solar on. I want to go bigger, but my distributor won’t allow it. 🙁

          • Peter Campbell

            Might be something to do with how much PV is on that phase in your street. If you got three phase power you might be allowed 5KW on each phase.

          • Greg Hudson

            I’ve looked, and there are no panels visible anywhere on the street. I think the distributer (Ausnet) have just made up their own rules. I believe > 5 Kw also may preclude one from a FIT as well, but I may be wrong.

  • Mephiztopheleze

    what is an LGC? You refer to this acronym numerous times, yet on first reference, I can’t see a definition. BASIC JOURNALISM people, this is basic shit.

  • john

    Perhaps once again I should post a link to information that refers to Australia.
    https://cleantechnica.com/2017/02/07/new-coal-build-expensive-energy-option-australia-bnef/
    And to perhaps some research.
    https://theconversation.com/solar-is-now-the-most-popular-form-of-new-electricity-generation-worldwide-81678

    The above goes into PHES and points out the usage etc.
    Without a doubt ultra critical coal is not going to be built unless it done by government then passed on for $1 to some company who will close it because it can not turn a dollar of profit do we really have to have this idiotic conversation over and over again?