Welfare lobby's misguided and self-defeating attack on solar | RenewEconomy

Welfare lobby’s misguided and self-defeating attack on solar

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Welfare lobby is right to rail against Australia’s ridiculous electricity prices, but echoing fossil fuel talking points against solar and other new technologies is self defeating.

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The welfare lobby has a stronger case than anyone to rail against the absurd levels of electricity prices in Australia, and the energy stress it is causing for consumers. Low income households are struggling, and some are being disconnected. Small businesses are having to close.

But the decision of the welfare groups to put some of the blame on solar households, and the suggestion that they are freeloading on others, is fraught with risks – not just for electricity prices in general, but because it is likely to worsen the very problem they are looking to solve.

Lochiel Park Units, (Greenway Architects), Campbelltown - SA
Lochiel Park Affordable Housing Units in South Australia. Source: Greenway Architects

The fossil fuel lobby has long sought to demonise rooftop solar as a “transfer of wealth” from rich households to poor, even though the statistics do not support this. This tactic has now been adopted to attack battery storage, and even electric vehicles, as we note in this story we publish today.

The argument is that solar, battery storage and EVs are a “transfer of wealth from the industry to consumers,” which is so laughable in the context of the record profits and ridiculous prices charged to electricity consumers that it beggars belief.

But the fact that many in the welfare lobby echo these talking points, even to the point of supporting higher fixed charges and solar taxes, is causing great frustration to solar advocates who argue there are much smarter ways to address what is a very important issue – access to clean technology for low-income households, renters and apartment dwellers.

Welfare groups led by ACOSS on Monday released a report looking at the soaring cost of electricity and the “energy stress” on consumers, correctly blaming a decade with no policy certainty, mismanagement, high network costs and a lack of competition in the wholesale markets.

But some aspects of the report alarmed solar advocates, and this was confirmed by news reports quoting spokespeople for the welfare lobby putting much of the blame of high bills on solar, when costs associated with renewable energy schemes reflect just a tiny portion of bills – even on the welfare group’s own figures.

One of the report’s major recommendations was to call on COAG Energy Ministers “to investigate further how to address inequitable allocation of the costs associated with the transition and growth of distributed energy resources, to ensure the transition to clean energy is more equitable and inclusive.”

That recommendation referred to this clause in the report, on page 28.

“The costs of network expenditure and renewable energy policies (the RET, the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES), state feed-in tariffs and energy saving schemes) are currently recovered on electricity bills through charges applied to each unit of energy consumed.
“If a household has distributed energy resources, their energy bills are small or zero and in some cases can be in credit. These households are paying little if anything towards network expenditure and renewable energy policies, whereas households without distributed energy – including low-income and disadvantaged households – pay the full amount.”
The basis of their complaint is that as more households take up solar – and battery storage – this “load defection” will in turn cause other households to pay higher prices so that the networks can recoup their promised revenues.

And it underlines this important point: It is not the actions of solar households that should be under scrutiny, but the total pool of revenue that the networks seek to recoup from their customers. Gold plating on the poles and wires was rampant, as any number of reports in the last week have confirmed.

And, at a time when networks and generators are making more money than they ever before, the very idea (propagated by the fossil fuel lobby) that they should complain about a transfer of wealth from generators to consumers is laughable.

What should be proposed is a write down of their assets, not a write-down of the benefits that solar households can obtain.

Secondly, households in Australia are already paying significant fixed prices. In the region controlled by Essential Energy in NSW, for instance, customers are paying $1.57 a day just for the network connection – that’s $573 a year.

It is an outrageous fee that applies to solar and non solar households alike, and hits low usage households hardest because it means that low usage households – those using around 1MWh a year – are paying around 80c/kWh for their electricity. Households using 2MWh a year (or 6kWh a day) are effectively paying 60c/kWh.

Those rates are usurious, a scandal and cannot be justified.

Just how these charges are allowed to stand in Australia, let alone the standard rate of 40c/kWh (volume tariffs plus the fixed charges), shows just how the regulatory and supervisory bodies in Australia have either been asleep or completely lost the plot, and/or become beholden to the slick lobbying and pseudo-economics of the industry.

The other half of the bill comes from wholesale and retail markets, which while not owned by a monopoly is still run by an oligopoly who in the last year have demonstrated their ability to control and manipulate pricing to their advantage.

It is obvious that the best way to address this is through more competition. Even the ACCC recognises this. One way is to have more players at the big end of town, building wind and solar farms and pumped hydro and grid scale battery storage.

Another obvious option is to encourage consumers, households and businesses, to invest in their own resources – solar and storage. Given that solar costs less than 10c/kWh, everything should be done to make this available to low income households.

To encourage that, however, requires policies that reward such investment, not penalise them with talk of solar taxes, higher fixed fees and penalties for leaving the grid.

It is all too easy to add up the supposed costs of all the different schemes that encourage renewables, but too rarely are the benefits considered.

Recent criticisms of the renewable energy target have talked of costs of $3 billion a year – which is a falsehood in any case, because it completely misrepresents the number of renewable energy certificates sold at the market price, and it does not consider the benefits of reduced wholesale prices.

The same criticisms have been laid out against rooftop solar. But again, the benefits are rarely considered. One recent report, from Energy Synapse, pointed to the huge benefits that solar played in the summer months, saying rooftop solar saved nearly $1 billion in wholesale electricity costs during the NSW February heatwave.

Rooftop solar saved NSW consumers nearly $1 billion in heatwave

Network after network have spoken of the ability of rooftop solar to narrow, and delay peak demand periods. This saves money, although it does require incumbents to think differently about their business models. Rooftop solar should not be the scapegoat.

Some state governments are now seeking to identify more of these benefits and have them reflected in feed-in tariffs. Victoria’s regulatory body ascribed a value for the avoided cost of carbon to its feed-in tariff. It put environmental and network benefits into the too-hard basket.

The problem of lower revenue from solar owners could be largely overcome by moving to tariffs which are based more on usage during evening peaks, which is what has been driving the need for new network investment.

Solar owners would pay the same as everyone else for their usage during peaks. But ironically, more cost reflective network tariffs have been opposed by some of the same welfare groups.

The position of the welfare lobby has frustrated many in the solar sector. But such are their delicate relationships that most chose to go off the record.

They noted, however, that most solar households nowadays would be on the lower FiTs of between 5 and 11 cents, and unlikely to have zero or near zero bills, let alone be in credit (especially considering the much higher fixed charges now facing all consumers).
In addition, lower FiTs (in the order of 5 to 11 cents) are not a cross subsidy – the kWh exported have value in the energy market and FiTs as low as these represent a payment for a commodity that is being sold.
“We agree that we need to move toward more equitable allocation of costs. This is why we support more cost-reflective tariffs, which would address the DUOS (network charges) issue if done right.
“Whether better concessions or special tariffs or something else is the solution to this, I’m sure we can figure it out as part of the broader work we are all doing on making energy markets work better for all consumers. “

One chose to go on the record:

“This is a useful and mostly positive report. And there is a genuine conversation to be had here about the need to make sure that low income households pay relatively little for the costs of moving to a zero net carbon energy sector,” said Mark Byrne, an energy expert from the Total Environment Centre.
“However, portraying solar households in effect as freeloaders is not very helpful – especially when many of the 1.7 million Australian households with solar are themselves aged pensioners on low fixed incomes.
“The quote on page 28 of the report bunches together a variety of green schemes which have very different designs and cost recovery mechanisms. And it does not provide evidence to back up its claim that solar households are not paying their fair share.
“Solar advocates would prefer to be working side-by-side with the welfare sector to make solar, batteries, smart homes and above all more energy efficient buildings more readily available to low income households.”
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  1. MaxG 3 years ago

    Nobody is listening to well-reasoned arguments, but their own self-serving opinions… like I said many times: the amount of stupid people is just mind-boogling.

    • Jo 3 years ago

      That’s why we have the government we deserve.

      • john 3 years ago

        Or perhaps the government we do not deserve.

        • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

          Or just the government we’ve learnt to hate…

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Go to the top of the class Max and collect a beer and a packet of chips.

      • MaxG 3 years ago

        What also triggered this thought was the fact that the neighbour’s house got the corro replaced. You’d think they whack in insulation — what an ideal opportunity to do so… NO, they didn’t! I cannot fathom this greediness… and this reminded me of the flat-earthers… which is beyond my comprehension.

        • solarguy 3 years ago

          My back neighbour moved in with 4kw solar already on the roof. He said to me it’s not saving us much. I asked if anyone was at home during the day, no he said……………… use clothes dryer at night etc. So told him he needs a battery. he stuttered ahh ,……… I don’t know if that would work said he!

  2. George Darroch 3 years ago

    “The same criticisms have been laid out against rooftop solar. But again, the benefits are rarely considered. One recent report, from Energy Synapse, pointed to the huge benefits that solar played in the summer months, saying rooftop solar saved nearly $1 billion during the NSW February heatwave.”

    Yes, but the billions of averted investment are not being returned to poorer and non-house owning Australians.

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      On your last sentence, the people how fork out for the infrastructure of having solar on their roofs, even with the increased FIT in NSW are still making the incumbents rich. For instance peaking plant in times of ultra peak demand are costing around $1-14kwh, but the retailers are only paying 12.5c/kwh for roof top solar generated power, saving them ship loads of money when the capacity wasn’t there from any other generation source to avert a brown or black out in feb this year and not just because that generation was there, but because it offset would have been needed from FF generation that was maxed out, in the first instance.

  3. Wilbur 3 years ago

    So the best solution would to give landlords highly accelerated deprecation for installing PV onto properties on the condition it remains a rental property for a certain period, and the landlord allows the tenant to get the benefit. And you just make it mandatory that new rental premises must have a certain amount of PV depending on their size and type of construction. Then it becomes a competitive market where tenants will search for the properties which have PV but the rental is not much different from those that don’t have PV.

    • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

      I definitely think giving tenants the right to access PV has to be part of it. And I don’t even think it needs significant changes to depreciation, such is the potential shared benefit If the landlord can make the same return on capital as his property by spending on PV (typically ROI for property is <4%), rational decision making should lead to him doing it! He is already potentially getting almost that from the current depreciation rate.

    • Brian Tehan 3 years ago

      I rented out my townhouse with solar pv and also very energy efficient in a popular part of Melbourne. There was very little interest and I had to drop the rent below the going rate for the quality of property (not taking into account the pv and 7 star rating). Tenants aren’t interested at this point in time.

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        But their the dumb ones Brian, wouldn’t know a good thing if it bit them on the arse.

        • Chris Fraser 3 years ago

          They may be, but if they weren’t dumb, theres a good chance that change or new offerings appear intimidating for them. Education will be their key, from third parties, friends and as many sources as possible.

      • davidb98 3 years ago

        popular part of Melbourne… so they were not really cost sensitive
        as noted above its mainly poorer households wanting to save money that go for solar… the more well-off dont need to care about saving but probably dumb enough to be attracted by what seems like a lower price

        • solarguy 3 years ago

          Yep I find the well off usually don’t buy solar, makes me wonder how they had enough brains to get their high paying jobs. Must be the arsehole factor.

      • MaxG 3 years ago

        Confirms what I am seeing on a regular basis… the majority of people have no clue, do not care, and do not five a thing…
        I am building what is the most likely the first passive house in Qld (exceeding 10 star) … you would not believe the conversation I have about it. Double glazed! In Qld? | Ventilation! Costs money to run. | Well insulated. We have insulation too, but it is cold in winter and hot in summer. | 0.5 ACH! What does that mean? Ahh, why ot open the windows and let the warmth in? … and the silliness just goes on. Realestate agent said: this house will scare the buyers off if you tell ’em what is in it and how it works… Welcome to Australia… and I only built a house to a standard, which will be mandatory in Europe from 2020 onwards.

        • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

          I looked at one last Sat which was extolling the virtues of solar, double glazing, 6 star energy rating. I just HOPE this scares everyone away, because this is the one I want. It has room for 60+ panels all facing North, and NO TREES in the way !

        • Ian 3 years ago

          Awesome, couple of issues though. Presumably your insulated capsule is mostly to keep heat out. You would still need to extract heat from the house from all the internal sources of heat , like electrical appliances and human and pet bodies. Would you use air-conditioning for this job? If you rely on air conditioning to extract heat would you then choose lightweight walls, floors and ceilings internal to your insulation to reduce the thermal inertia. Or, would you choose thicker heavier materials for the interior cladding and increase thermal inertia. Lower thermal inertia would favour quick cooling to limit air-conditioning to the times people are in the house, this would minimise energy draw from your electricity supply. Higher thermal inertia would take far longer to cool down but would last longer, this would favour a cheap and virtually unlimited but intermittent power supply such as ample solar panels running the air conditioner. You could get the benefit of thermal storage and still have lightweight and rapidly responsive internal cladding by installing ice storage air-conditioning or something similar.

          In some places with a high diurnal temperature range – very hot days and very cold nights – thick walls and floors thermally tied to the ground and well insulated roofs, such as thick thatching, do the trick. The interior of the house tends to take on the average ambient temperature. The idea is that any heat transfer from outside takes several hours to penetrate the thick masonary type walls, by the time heat reaches inside its nighttime and cold outside and the whole heat transfer is reversed. The thick walls and floor provide huge thermal storage and stay comfortably cool even if the doors and windows are left open and there is ingress of hot air. This type of housing is common elsewhere but Australia seems to go for lightweight, low thermal mass dwellings.

          You would obviously want to orientate windows away from the sunlight as glass tends to transmit electromagnetic waves carrying radiant heat from the sun but block the infrared wavelengths of heat radiating from inside the house. As a extreme example an East facing window will allow the sun’s warming rays to stream into the house, warming floors, walls, furniture and bodies and then the radiant heat from these secondary sources is blocked and reflected back into the house making the space behave like a solar oven.

      • Rod 3 years ago

        I had the same response when I let my house for a couple of Years back in 2001 (ish) no premium rent for PV.
        I am seeing more rentals with PV though. Usually home owners moving out and letting. They aren’t asking for any more than market rent.

      • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

        I’ve asked our (fantastic) tenants if they’d be agreeable to installing PV for a moderate increase in rent which should be offset by decrease in power bills if the manage energy usage well. Waiting to hear from them. Problem is many households in rentals don’t work as a team to reduce energy bills and often all are out during the day when best use of PV occurs. Timers on washing machines and RCAC timers and remote access (which the market leading performance Daikon US7 i had installed for them can do with the added WiFi card), can help in this area.

        • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

          I building a Raspberry Pi based gadget to lower the HW system set point whenever I’m not generating PV power so that it won’t run at night but will maximise use of solar, for precisely this reason: my daughters/mates are all out all day and HW is significant energy sink. If they maximise the use of the slow cooker during the day, the only challenge to reducing night time demand is their love of the big screen TV and gaming computers!!

          • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

            yes that’s good, we’ve discussed heat banking excess PV energy on the FB Group My Energy Efficient Electric Home. Unfortunately it’s hard to talk to Sandon heat pumps (the one I’d get when I replace the 1950s gravity feed HW unit if it ever fails) but old resistive element HW units can be retrofitted for thermostat control to take advantage of PV.

            Where I live at the moment we have a large evacuated tube and the electric standby has never been switched on in middle of a Perth winter (doesn’t really compare with Melbourne winter! but was -3º C last night). Only takes one hour a day of direct sun the owner tells me to heat a full tank of water for 6-8 people showering, dishes etc.

        • Mike Shackleton 3 years ago

          There is a company called Matter which have a system that allows you to sell the PV generated power to your tenants at a discounted rate to their electricity supplier and claim the FiT for whatever is fed into the grid. So, your rooftop on your rental property becomes an income generating asset. Then it doesn’t matter what your tenants value.

          • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

            All leasing scheme throws money at the lenders/financial services industry though. I’d rather just install and have tenants accept the value proposition 🙂

    • Mike Shackleton 3 years ago

      All a landlord needs to do is apply for an ABN as a sole trader. Then the landlord can access the instant deduction for assets up to $20k in value.

      • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

        Thanks, would that work as a land tax or rates reduction? Should suggest that to Darebin who’ve double our rates over the last 5-10 years. Rebates on rates for rental home EE and RE improvements. Might suggest at next Greens policy discussion rather than current policy of directly subsidising home battery purchases — which is great for early adopters with the $$ but not necessarily going to drive the learning curve (Australia being a small, if leading edge, segment of global market).

    • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

      I’m currently looking for a new house in Melbourne, and PV is my #1 priority. However… many of the houses I have seen have trees in the way (usually on a northern neighbors property) or they are facing East (one I saw was facing SOUTH!).

  4. john 3 years ago

    The decrying of the payment to people who put their money up front to put PV on their roof overlooks the effect.
    Before PV was installed by a large number of householders the energy demand curve was a bell curve with highest prices during the day, now it is a duck curve with highest usage a small rise in the morning and the highest demand in the evening.
    The actual subsidy by those early take up people of PV have keep prices of power lower the huge increase in energy price is due to the idiotic selling off of distribution networks with a guaranteed return on investment.
    Due to a failure in the governance of the electricity market supply bidding process we wind up with $14,000 per MWH prices due to deliberate manipulation by generators.
    If the spokesperson for the Welfare Lobby is so poorly informed perhaps he/she should actually read the RET report or look at the information available historically.

    As with many aspects of society people make conclusions with scant knowledge.

    • Cooma Doug 3 years ago


    • solarguy 3 years ago

      But that’s the problem, they shoot off from the gob without knowing the facts (truth).

      • Ian 3 years ago

        Too right, the story does illustrate the uphill battle that renewables face.

    • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

      Uneducated dickheads.

  5. Mark Parnell MLC 3 years ago

    In SA, the welfare and environmental sectors have mostly worked pretty well together, however I suspect that the latest attack on solar feed-in tariffs is “low hanging fruit”, because the real drivers of electricity prices are in the too hard basket. I’d like to see any research into what proportion of solar households are still on the old premium legislated feed-in tariffs, compared with households on only the standard Retailer F-iT. Previous RenewEconomy stories about the socio-economics of the top solar suburbs and towns shows that it’s low to medium income earners, not silver tails, who have invested in renewables. In Adelaide, that means the poorer outer Northern and Southern suburbs and not the leafy, wealthier Eastern suburbs. Mark Parnell MLC, Parliamentary Leader, Greens SA.

    • George Darroch 3 years ago

      Hi Mark, we definitely need to deal with equity issues in power pricing and supply now, otherwise we’re going to see a deterioration in support for renewables, and a collapse in the consensuses that have developed among numerous organisations and parties.

      • Mark Parnell MLC 3 years ago

        Yes, which is why my response to SACOSS on ABC today wasn’t to pretend there is no equity problem, but rather to pose different solutions such as putting solar panels on all public housing etc.

        • solarguy 3 years ago

          I agree but it can’t be for free, say a zero interest loan over 4 yrs with a small grant as well.

          • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

            Different option. Govt installs the PV for free. User keeps paying the current rate until the panels are paid off. Then price drops to RRP-FIT etc.

        • Rod 3 years ago

          I think SA Housing Trust is doing a partial rollout of roof PV. I would be interested in how they structure that. i.e. a small increase in rent.
          Private tenants can point their landlord to matter.solar or something similar.

  6. John Wood 3 years ago

    The pea and thimble trick is to make solar and wind look like it is environmentally friendly when clesrly it isn’t. The mining and processing of rare earth minerals to produce these panels consumes an inordinate amount of power. Power currently supplied by hundreds of newly built coal power stations in China. Likewise the devastation from tbis type of mining is both environmentally damaging and unsustainable. The current design life is far short of the return on investment and the mugs in tbe west are going yo carry the burden of disposing these silent polluters. The only way this flawed energy source can get a small piece of the market is by huge subsidies that we taxpayers must fork out to keep the greedy ideologues from further bed wetting. Don’t get me started on the antique system of windmills that saw them disbanded two hundred years ago. Not to mention the devistation to bird life, infrasound and unreliability. For every kw of toy power, ee need an equal amount of baseload. Cannot wait for the confected outrage from the flat earthers who see nothing but a rainbow sky as we drift back to the dark ages while demanding that ordinary taxpayers and small business spew buckets of money just so some feel warm and fuzzy.

    • trackdaze 3 years ago

      Wow thats a lot of words to be absolutely positively so wrong.

    • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

      John go and have another big ladle of that stuff you’re drinking – it’s doing you good

      • john 3 years ago

        Mike I think he is drinking the FF outlets information which is full of disinformation and yes will sound good to simple people who do not have any level of understanding and this is a huge problem in society as most are not exactly maths or science literate.

    • john 3 years ago

      You are obviously totally deluded.
      Making PV is worse that using coal power duh.
      Wind power the cheapest of all power delivery you are totally misguided in your information from probably Koch Brothers or some other idiot outlet.

      Edit actually in some areas Solar is by far the cheapest.

    • Joe 3 years ago

      Is that…John Wood…the actor…acting as anti RE puppet. Johnno, you’ve won me over my man. “CLEEEEEN COAL”, ‘HELE COALERS”….the world is just crying out for more of this. Coal is sooooooo good for humanity. Coal for another 200 years…yeah baby, lets get this Fossil Fuel party cooking…and fry Planet Earth at the same.

      • john 3 years ago

        hhaa ha ha ha good take down

    • lin 3 years ago

      I hope you have the courage of your convictions, and put all your savings and super into coal.

    • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

      Great work packing all the anti-renewable cliches into one rant.

      Mate I reckon if you were a pirate you’d have all the cliche attachments – hook for a hand, eye patch, wooden leg, a sideways black captains hat with the skull-and-crossbones drawn on the front, and a parrot sitting on your shoulder squawking “pieces of eight”. Well done on a great piece of theatrics.

    • John Wood 3 years ago

      Thanks for all the non comments from brave souls hiding behind nom de plumes. I don’t think coal is the long term answer, just as i don’t think that solar and wind are as well. Nuclear is now a proven technology and will be our mainstay energy source over the next century. I’m a bit disappointed in the calibre of debate. Not a lot of genuine argument, a lot of invective and all manner of juvenile name calling. For those that think your ideology is going in the right direction, I’ll just say SOUTH AUSTRALIA.

      • Carl Raymond S 3 years ago

        Nuclear is lower carbon than coal. Doesn’t have a hope in hell of competing with wind and solar which are already cheaper, with prices falling. The kick in the teeth with nuclear is the cost of decommissioning.

      • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

        John, replying without the cloak of a nom de plume, you aren’t taken seriously because you write things that are simply and plainly wrong, and read like a trash website. The thing that Hinkley for example proves is that nuclear energy is hopelessly out priced by large scale RE even allowing for storage costs using PH, and does nothing to overcome DUOS costs compared to cheaper rooftop solar plus batteries, which in any case is more secure, safe and sustainable. The thing that Fukashima showed is that private sector utilities don’t price in or engineer adequately for worst case events and the consequences are devastating.

        I’m glad you raise SA – a state where our PM and his energy minister showed themselves to be utter hypocrites and devoid of interest in solving real problems. Jay will do so on his own, with a mix of home storage, battery storage, fast gas plant, and not too far down the road, pumped hydro (see the announcement to the market for Hillgrove for example which is one I am involved with). I fully expect SA to be 100% RE and exporting RE to the east well before 2025.

      • Giles 3 years ago

        Nuclear, it’s proven only to be ridiculously expensive, with rising costs. Even the French have realised that building wind and solar is cheaper than maintaining nuclear, and replacing the lot with wind and solar is cheaper than replacing with nuclear. meanwhile, in the US ….. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nuclear-south-carolina-idUSKBN1AG22S

        • Brunel 3 years ago

          He is an astroturfer or deluded.

      • Colin Nicholson 3 years ago

        I’ll just say Hinkley C

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        Spoken like a true FF stooge, aka moron.

      • Joe 3 years ago

        Nu Clear…proven technology. Hmmm, Japan and Germany are just soooooooooo in love with Nu Clear….proven technology.

      • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

        You get what you deserve, unsubstantiated claims and recycling of RWNJ myths will get short shrift here. See you, real name, BTW.

    • Brian Tehan 3 years ago

      That’s a load of alternative facts from the crackpot sites. If you want to do your research using reputable scientific and industry sources, you will see that everything you’ve said about pv and wind is wrong. The payback on the energy used is a very small percentage of the life and the expected life of both power sources is 30 years or more. You’ll also note that the latest large scale installations in the USA and elsewhere (Morocco and other places) are already producing power for less than coal plants.

    • Colin Nicholson 3 years ago

      So let me show you some maths John. A solar panel is sold from the producer for about 46 cents a watt. It will produce over its lifetime about a kilowatt hour every year or about 20KWHrs over its life time. So how do you get 20KWhr (if that is what is required to produce them) and the other production costs to beat 46 cents. You can’t of course. The average input to a solar panel for a watt is about 1KWHR or about a quarter of the total cost. I’m pleased that you want to see rare earth mining industry in WA closed down (australia is the second largest producer of rare earths in the world). The global value of rare earths is about $A 3 billion. If all this was used on electricity, that would equate to 100 TWHr or so per year (about a third of the total wind power produced in China). That would require a continuous production over a year. from coal of 15 GW – about 10 supercrits. Rare earths are nowhere the problem of mercury which is still used (Gold and coal believe it or not). Gadolinium is a rare earth necessary for nuclear power stations – so I guess they are gone as well. Though rare earths for magnets account for 80% of the dollar value of rare earths, they only account for a quarter of the tonnage. A lot of stuff will go if rare earths go … you won’t be reading this for instance and you won’t be ringing up to complain neither … and you won’t be using petrol neither… I’ll follow up on the birds

      • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

        Colin you’re confusing the f**k out of me, let alone him. FFS put it in a goddamn spreadsheet or a chart, or anything other than your expanded prose. You’re almost as bad as him.

      • John Norris 3 years ago

        1 kWh per year? More like 400 kWh per year (per 250W panel, in sunny Los Angeles). Or 10,000 kWh over its lifetime.

        • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

          His 1kWh was per W installed for 46c – very conservative. Qld is typically about 1.7kWh/W installed, with large scale solar working on 35c/W. Not bad over a lifetime of 25y

          • John Norris 3 years ago

            Thanks, didn’t spot that. So LA would be 1.6kWh/W, just behind Qld.

          • Colin Nicholson 3 years ago

            Thanks Mike … now that I reread … yes not all that clear, the 1,000 hours per year is based over 20 years. In the final years significant numbers outside 35 deg N/S will have dropped to this value. It is important to be conservative if you want to win the argument. Likewise I think the numbers on rare earths err on the conservative as well. I’ll probably upgrade my current panels in 15 years time (at the 20 year mark). Elon’s tiles look specko

        • lin 3 years ago

          Even in cold grey Melbourne (38 degrees south) a 250 watt panel will produce ~350kWh per year.

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      I’ll be succinct, your talking cock custard.

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      I reckon you are a flat-earther too :))

    • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

      Okay we wont “get you started”, dumb trolls should know how to use the exit door, you included. This place is for reasoned argument not garbage unsupported with a flake of evidence.

  7. howardpatr 3 years ago

    Disappointing that Casandra Goldie of ACOSS would find her organization aligned with the tactics of the arch right wing Koch brothers and their fossil fuel supporters.

    • Brunel 3 years ago

      Disappointing that the Greens did not give me a $900 cheque after putting in a carbon tax. I thought the Greens were meant to be compassionate?

      What is the carbon price now? $0.

      (No I did not vote for Abbott)

      • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

        I think you’re confusing the neocon-caused GFC (the possible major economic depression in 2009) with the neolib allergy to ‘big real problem solving’.

        • Brunel 3 years ago

          I am not confused at all.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            Your “$900 cheque” schleck directs your argument to a one and only specific time 8 years ago when we needed $900 cheques (instant consumer spending) to spare us from a goddamn economic depression. What do you not understand about an economic depression?

            You are confused, yeah I said it, to mock the necessity of $900 cheques, but it solved our national crisis with rapid consumer spending exactly when it was needed.

            Engineer? I forgive you.
            Economist? – you’re just a dumb shit.

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          neolib/neocon – you say tomato, I say tomato

  8. trackdaze 3 years ago

    The USA has heaps more solar and wind and they pay 12cents.

    What they don’t have is 30 levels of utility beauracracy filled to the gunnels with six figure desk jockeys.

    • Brunel 3 years ago

      Um, it is more expensive to install rooftop solar in USA than it is to install rooftop solar in AUS. Due to red tape.

      Red tape sucks!

      • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

        It is also lack of competition

  9. Roger Franklin 3 years ago

    “Penalties for leaving the grid” – Oh really! Good luck with that one! Energy Generation and Distribution companies would need to amend all contracts to include a clause regarding a Penalty for leaving the Grid as I do not think there is such a clause at the present.
    Glad to have already left the grid

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      I will leave if I hear about such clauses to be added…

  10. Sally Noel Triggell 3 years ago

    Nationalize energy, it’s needed by everyone, all these complicated regulatory bodies subservient to the highest bidder will not fix the problem. Then if a profit is made it’s returned to the people, after all we paid for the grid. A report not long ago found that by doing so we would be in the black within 3 years. Not a bad investment. Sorry I can’t find the report to put it up.

    • john 3 years ago

      You just put your finger on it we paid for the grid and it was sold.
      Mind Government owned generators have been found to be the worst exploiters of the price for power supply under the present system.

      • nakedChimp 3 years ago

        Did they always do this or was there a propping up going on to get the bride ready for sale?

    • trackdaze 3 years ago

      The trouble is the networks and generators that are still government owned (qld) are the worst

      • john 3 years ago

        Not all networks are and yes the government owned generators have lets be honest been less than honest in their bidding process and have made excessive bids.

        • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

          Talking about networks not generators (only generators bid into the spot market)

      • Sally Noel Triggell 3 years ago

        They have up to this point, but at least the money is returned to tax payers. However since the bidding has been changed by government instruction, ( whole sale energy prices have come down ), you can do that when you own them.

        • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

          “Returning the money to the taxpayers” doesn’t help low income familes being price gauged by the networks. They don’t see it directly and it’s a regressive form of taxation, but one that state who still own poles and wires give the nod to.

      • Brunel 3 years ago

        At least the profits are going into government coffers. And government should give a $900 cheque to each poor voter annually.

        SYD airport should be government owned also. It is a private monopoly!

  11. RobSa 3 years ago

    I’m all for the “transfer of wealth” from rich households to poor by any means whatsoever. That’s not to say I believe it to the case here.

    • Cooma Doug 3 years ago

      There is a video on youtube of some homeless unemployed Trump voters.
      Some are working but cant afford rent.
      They were blaming Obama Care and mexico for their trouble. One old gal blamed the climate scam…what ever that means in Kentucky.

      The Barnaby Joyce and Morrison’s statements on climate action and batteries are just as ignorant.

      • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

        Sad to see Doug, especially given the lies and hypocrisy. Joyce has supported farmers and regional Australia so “successfully” that their health and education indicators have gone thru the floor, and income inequality is stark. Morrison seems never well informed enough to make sense, and never to have enough sense to keep quiet.

  12. Ray Miller 3 years ago

    My 2cents worth, we have in Australia various cash and/or subsidies to various groups, pensioners, rural areas, special hardship, charities etc. All that money which must be 10’s to 100’s of millions annually is a major cost and does nothing in the long run to lower costs and make energy more affordable for anyone.

    What if the subsidies were invested instead in energy efficiency and even solar to actually get not just a once off sugar hit but something which returns an annual dividend! Shock horror, this might actually be a solution instead of the this endless burning of money and adding to energy cartels profits.

    In the UK public housing is required to be built to higher energy standards which lower the operating costs to the renters, this is of greater benefit instead of trying to find cash in each years government budgets.

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      Too logical for AU. 🙁
      Here we let the government sell the public assets for the corporations to profit, and to squeeze the consumer… any subsidy paid by the people though the government also goes straight to the corporations… what a brilliant system for the top 1%. -> Exactly the opposite of what it should be.

    • Rod 3 years ago

      Although they stuffed up the execution, Labor at least had a shot with the “Pink Batts” scheme. Would love to know how many GWh that has saved in since.

      • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

        It’s the LNP line that Pink Batts was a stuff up but it was as far as I can see the biggest single energy efficiency drive, putting insulation in 2.4million homes and save 38PJ by 2020, and 314PJ by 2030 even after deducting embodied energy (see https://theconversation.com/pink-batts-not-a-scandal-but-not-as-good-as-claimed-10213). Furthermore, if anything it proved that the private sector doesn’t magically do things better than the public, but the enormous beat up about fires and deaths was completely unfounded: statistically it was safer than a “normal” year – there’s a hard to find CSIRO report on that aspect.

        • George Darroch 3 years ago

          It was the biggest beatup I can remember, and the gullible media swallowed it wholesale.

          We need a second round large rollout of insulation and window-treatments.

        • Rod 3 years ago

          I think those figures quoted in the story are IF all homes were insulated?
          My understanding is Garrett was advised not to include foil but was over ridden by Rudd. Of course the installation companies should have been sued for not training the workers but Labor got the blame.

          • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

            I believe that is the actuals. It was worse than mere neglect – the subsequent prosecutions showed significant fraud by private companies – yunno, the ones we should trust coz we can’t trust the guvment. Unfortunately we have a rerun in the NEM now, of regulators being cowed by powerful interests and pollies acting in the interests of vested interests instead of voters, and often blaming public servants.

          • solarguy 3 years ago

            So correct on the companies not training these people. Shame on them!

          • Rod 3 years ago

            I still remember the story of the teenage twins, first job up in a stinking hot roofspace and given metal staples.

        • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

          In EE terms it has been foun by CSIRO and many others to be a great scheme. But there were genuine execution problems. The govt could have put a bulk order for batts in a got a major bargain on lowest ever wholesale price from a few suppliers. The opposite happened. Distributors instantly whacked a premium on all their existing stick to absorb the subsidy. Cowboy installers sprang up like monsoon frogs and everyone heard horror stories of dodgy AF installations that were either hopelessly inadequate in efficiency terms to justify cost or dangerous (covering lighting etc). Beaurcrats in Australia typical live on some other planet in their heads.

        • Peter G 3 years ago

          The link did not work for me.
          Interesting comments on CSIRO and HIP safety improvement at https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/hip-royal-commission-submission-part-5-dramatic-drop-in-deaths,6827

      • Peter G 3 years ago

        Pink Batts saved not just the GW but plenty of $ in some of the low income rentals. The reports statement that
        “low-income and disadvantaged households – pay the full amount.” is untrue for any household that was insulated or received free energy efficient appliances (provided to low income households under the efficiency programs referred to in the report). It is bizarre that ACOSS or SACOSS seem to have forgotten that low income household were significant beneficiaries of the energy efficiency programs.

        • Rod 3 years ago

          Yes, here in SA the REES scheme is available to all, but low income households get additional assistance.
          And low income households received the energy supplement for the carbon tax but that was never reversed. Many also receive a State Government concession for energy.

          REES home energy audits

          As well as the energy saving activities, you may also be eligible for a free home energy audit if you:
          hold a Commonwealth Government pensioner concession card
          hold a TPI Gold Repatriation Health Card
          hold a War Widows Gold Repatriation Health Card
          hold a Gold Repatriation Health Card (EDA)
          hold a Health Care Card (including a Low Income Health Care Card)
          receive the South Australian government energy concession
          are part of an energy retailer’s hardship program
          are referred by a financial counsellor.

      • Robert Comerford 3 years ago

        Where were the state work safety inspectors enforcing the law during the Pink Batts scheme? Nowhere to be found. The labor party just bent over when blamed for the deaths when it was clearly the criminal employers who were to blame and should have been jailed. The various state work safety inspectors should have been sacked en masse for neglect of duty.
        Clearly, every house should have had the power disconnected when stapling in the roof but this meant they would have to pay for having it disconnected/tested/reconnected at the pole when the meter box was at the back of the house.

  13. Geremida 3 years ago

    A fact check.
    In SE Queensland, Energex(distributor) recover the cost of the 44c FIT(which lasts until June 30, 2028). The last LNP government made this change. The total cost of the 44c FIT is $150M which is paid for by ALL customers – but it’s not a large amount in comparison with other price components.
    As an example, for a Residential Flat rate, this costs every customer on that rate 0.9c / day, and 0.981c/kWh.
    So you can judge for yourself if this is a “subsidy” or not
    see https://www.aer.gov.au/system/files/AER%20approved%20-%20Energex%202017-18%20Annual%20Pricing%20Proposal%20-%204%20May%202017.pdf

  14. Chris Harries 3 years ago

    If there was once an argument that solar distorted equality in this way, that rationality is now bunkum. Low solar feed-in tariffs have eliminated most incentives to go solar. Regardless, my experience is that it is simply not true, and never was. More poorer households invest in solar than do top end homes. They do it to save money.

    This was reinforced the other day when an old pensioner lady stopped me in the street and profusely thanked me – embarrassingly so! – for virtually eliminating her power bills. I had installed solar on her home several years ago.

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      I’ve experience the same thing, gave me a nice fuzzy warm feeling.

    • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

      Mortage-belt suburbs have the highest penetration of solarPV in Australian cities. PM Gillard also tried this class warfare line around rooftop solar and landed flat on her face.

      If public housing and ‘social housing’ get solarPV then the sooner the better. and low income families should get govt finance for PV and EE work (like the very successful in energy effcency terms but politically damaging Roof Insulation scheme under Rudd which was poorly managed by public servants and saw rent seeking from insulation wholesalers when higher volumes should have meant more buying power for the govt the opposite happened).

  15. Ken Dyer 3 years ago

    ACOSS and co. are totally out of line. They should be pointing the finger straight at Tony Abbott, Greg Hunt and Malcolm Turnbull, and the stupidity of privatising industries that SERVE THE COMMUNITY, not the people who have paid out their hard earned after tax dollars to install solar PV.

    Power prices are now on average more than twice as high as they were during the carbon tax era from 2012 to 2014 according to a report issued in March 2017.
    The study, by the Climate and Energy College at Melbourne University and
    commissioned by the Greens, argues that this shows Australia’s rising
    power prices can’t be blamed on market mechanisms to reduce greenhouse
    gas emissions or on renewables.

    The Greens’ Climate Change and Energy spokesperson, Adam Bandt, blamed
    the Liberals ‘war on renewables’ for new power generation not being
    built to replace aging coal fired plant.

    • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

      Abbott, Hunt, Freydenberg, Bolt and Murdoch will all be lapping this up saying mission accomplished as their bigs messaging is taken up by their tradition political opponents. ACOSS #fail.

      • Ken Dyer 3 years ago

        Yes, and the problem is that it plays well in the polls. What has Turnbull and co actually done except screw the less well off. Here we have Shorten talking creditably about the inequality and what do the polls do. They reward the bloody coalition. I really do despair.
        Have a look at the latest Essential poll numbers. LNP up Labor down, Greens down Hanson up. Are people that blind to reality?

        • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

          “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy” 😉 but yeah, you can take an electorate to water but you can’t make it think.

          • Ken Dyer 3 years ago

            “Lighten up while you still can
            Don’t even try to understand” ;~()
            You got it Alastair. There is no excuse for stupidity or ignorance.

  16. Kay Schieren 3 years ago

    It’s all nonsense – I am a 69 y.o. pensioner on stand-alone solar and I DON’T Pay POWER BILLS! The regulators and suppliers and politicians are mostly crooks and bullshitartists who are looking to stay rich or get richer. Solar is basic and easy, I set mine up myself for about 10g$A with a NAB credit card and a bit of brain work. If urban and rural people want to work together to make a cleaner, better, happier, healthier and easier, more satisfying life a reality, go the way I went. The basic hardware is all there, ready to go, and only requires some honesty, a modest lifestyle and a bit of work. And getting over oneself so new ideas can get a hold. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/547753c45550c8c3990d58c0076ac1ec4e5108124e00cacdf21974db5b296f08.jpg

    • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

      Where’s the fun in that?

    • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

      Way to go Kay – send this photo to Joyce and the other Luddites.

  17. DogzOwn 3 years ago

    Disappointing compared with: http://www.acoss.org.au/images/uploads/ACOSS_ENERGY_EFFICIENCY_PAPER_FINAL.pdf
    another version a few years ago, more clearly made the case that capital cost, of energy efficiency improvements, is more than covered by savings in the 50% concession, taxpayer subsidy, for energy bills, for pensioner and health card holders.

  18. Andrew Woodroffe 3 years ago

    2 things; 1.in WA, as the fixed price went up 95% last month, Synergy is now making money on all solar as well*
    2. the inequity for solar is not so much poor vs rich (given that installers can all provide finance, if you have the wherewithall to pay off your electricity bills then . . . ), so much as shaded roofs vs non shaded roofs . . .
    *Some details here;http://www.skyfarming.com.au/CostValueRooftopSolar/index.htm

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