Murdoch press takes aim at ACT's 90% renewable plan | RenewEconomy

Murdoch press takes aim at ACT’s 90% renewable plan

Murdoch press mixes some right wing ideology and a double helping of misinformation to attack ACT government’s ambitious renewable energy plan.


It took a while, but the Murdoch media has finally deployed its media howitzers against the ACT government’s 90 per cent renewable energy plan – the one bright spot in an otherwise desolate landscape for large-scale renewables in Australia.

In a piece titled “Renewable energy proposal for Canberra offers a capital example of the green Left’s hot air”, reporter Angela Shanahan manages to combine an unexplained ideological opposition to green energy with a whole bunch of misinformation.

canberra1-150x150Dismissing the plan as a  “left-green obsession of saving the planet”, and drawing an unclear analogy with the local sex industry, Shanahan then swallows a grotesque piece of misinformation fed to her by Angus Taylor, the newly elected federal Coalition MP for Hume, who has made it his mission to bring the wind energy industry in Australia to a halt.

The ACT government has said that the cost of 200MW of wind farms it wants to commission will add around $1.30 to household electricity bills a week, and the entire 90 per cent renewable energy target will add around $4 a week by 2020. That is equivalent to around 10 per cents to the average household bill, although the ACT says this will be offset by its new energy efficiency scheme that will reduce consumption.

Taylor, though, claims that electricity bills will “triple” – a claim Shanahan is happy to repeat as fact. But it’s nonsense, based on Taylor’s estimate that wind energy costs three times as much as coal power.

“Standard electricity price at the moment is $30 a megawatt-hour,” Shanahan quoted Taylor as saying, “but according to my calculations, the cost of wind on an equivalent basis is over $90, triple. So this will have a big impact on household electricity bills.”

Well, as Taylor well knows from his work at Port Jackson Partners, there is a big difference between wholesale electricity prices and retail bills.

Take this table from the Australian Energy Market Commission, and its analysis of retail price trends across Australia published last December. As it shows clearly, the wholesale price of electricity makes up a small percentage of the overall bill – even in the ACT, where the kWh prices are relatively low.

aemc act prices

Indeed, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) says the wholesale price charged to ACT consumers is not, as Taylor suggests, $30/MWH, but $45/MWh – even without the carbon price. (In NSW the wholesale component is nearly $90/MWh, but the ACT pricing regulator takes a tougher stance on margins).

The ACT auction system means that consumers will pay the difference between the spot price on the wholesale market and the contract agreed with the wind farm developer. Given that many wind farm developers will be bidding for the contract, the price is likely to be below $90/MWh. Wholesale electricity prices, given the expected doubling of gas generation price because of the LNG boom, are likely to be pushed much higher.

(The ACT could have actually reduced the costs significantly by cashing in the renewable energy certificates generated by the wind farms, but because it wants its target to be “additional” to whatever the federal Coalition government sets as the national renewable energy target, they will “retire” the certificates instead).

This is not the first time that Taylor has “gilded the lily” on estimates of renewable costs. Last year, we wrote how he had circulated a document claiming the costs of renewable energy would be astronomical, when a similar study by the very same Port Jackson Partners had concluded a year earlier that they would be minimal. Check out the way the two graphs were portrayed in the first and the second documents.

Still, Shanahan didn’t hold back, suggesting there would be more costs for “back-up”, which is patently not true, and claiming that Germany and Denmark are going back to coal power – in fact, both countries have recently lifted their renewable targets.

Shanahan even threw in some nonsense predicting a mass migration of businesses from the ACT to NSW, and massive impacts on the remaining population. “Businesses will relocate to Queanbeyan and first-home buyers and lower-income groups will suffer, a blatant example of the Labor Party betraying its constituency to get elitist green votes.”


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  1. Chris Fraser 7 years ago

    Ah, there’s the old ‘back-up’ card again ! Another lie that’s getting harder to swallow …

  2. Michael 7 years ago

    “Businesses will relocate to Queanbeyan”

    Right, where the per kWh electricity prices are almost double what they are within the ACT.

    It’s so easy to compare. ActewAGL serve both Canberra and Queanbeyan. For Queanbeyan, the peak, time of use, charge is 37.367 cents per kWh (inc. GST).

    In the ACT, the same, peak TOU, charge is no more than 21.33 cents per kWh (inc. GST).

    NSW needs to get it’s own house in order before it can expect businesses flooding out of the ACT due to electricity prices…

    • wideEyedPupil 7 years ago

      I think you deserve an op ed in the Oz to skewer those LNC MPs.

  3. JohnRD 7 years ago

    The ACT auction system makes a lot more sense than the carbon price or the RET because it gives investors the price certainty needed to encourage competitive bids.

  4. Martin 7 years ago

    “Murdoch media [..] reporter Angela Shanahan”

    What? Another shenanigan?

  5. Aaren 7 years ago

    What a load of tripe, it did start with a paragraph about the sex industry after all. I cannot even comment, every day there has to be something with this lot. The ignorance, arrogance and stupidity is a drain on intelligence and fact.

  6. Alen 7 years ago

    It’s funny and a sad situation at the same time, these reports have to find the most marginal facts and turn them into a significant factor, from agenda driven and very biased sources. I’m sure these people are smart enough to figure out half the stuff they are writing about (like Abbott says) is “hogwash”. No reporter hopes and develops their career to one day end up in a career that is dependent on spreading misinformation, rather than reporting on truth.

    But what Murdoch is after is misinformation, so misinformation is what they report on (unless they choose to maybe apply at RenewEconomy)

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