Malcolm and the Energy Bosses: What they might say | RenewEconomy

Malcolm and the Energy Bosses: What they might say

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As PM Malcolm Turnbull prepares for his meeting with the big energy retailers, here is how the conversation might pan out.

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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…


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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  1. Jo 3 years ago

    this is better than Utopia!

    • john 3 years ago

      Rather like Yes Prime Minister.

    • Joe 3 years ago

      Rob Stich is onto this for the next episode !

      • Rod 3 years ago

        Apparently they thought about covering the energy market but considered it so ludicrous the viewers wouldn’t believe it

  2. Geremida 3 years ago

    You’ve watched far too many John & Bryan interviews Adrian!
    But thanks for leaking this.
    Laughing out loud is effective medicine indeed
    Very funny indeed.
    Giles, can you ask Adrian to do a regular leaker’s column?

    • Adrian Merrick 3 years ago

      I’m ashamed to say I’ve never watched any John & Bryan interviews. Maybe I should. All inspiration comes from Yes Prime Minister, The Thick of It and Utopia 🙂

      • Rod 3 years ago
        • Adrian Merrick 3 years ago

          ah I’d heard about this but not yet seen it until just now. that’s superb. “It’s still government-owned” is extremely clever and fair play to them for keeping a straight face while doing that.

          • Joe 3 years ago

            …”Singapore Govt”…what a hoot !

          • Geremida 3 years ago

            Adrian I think you’re clairvoyant – I’ve just read some reports of today’s pow wow – and you were pretty much spot on!

          • Adrian Merrick 3 years ago

            Ah, no magical skills, just enough years knowing how this lot think 🙂 I wish it was differently!

  3. Grpfast 3 years ago

    If logic is considered in all of this! The answer is to “nationalise” Australia’s power generators, pay attention to someone who doesn’t make dollars out of it and move forward.

  4. George Darroch 3 years ago

    Very good, and much funnier than I was expecting!

    A reminder of the work of the late great John Clarke.

    • Joe 3 years ago

      I trust that Big Mal played the video in Canberra today for the benefit of his energy majors visitors

      • Adrian Merrick 3 years ago

        If I’d been hosting this meeting then that’s exactly how I’d have wanted to start it

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