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“Greener” Electricity in the ACT – At What Cost ??

By 11 March 2014 42

A while back, I recall the ACT Government proudly announcing that the feed in tarriff to make the Royalla Solar Farm economically viable, would add about $13 pa to everyone’s electricity bill in the ACT.   Doesn’t sound like much, does it.   But, multiply that by the number of Solar Farms planned ???  It must be getting up towards a permanent $100pa increase to each electricity bill.

Now, the ACT Government has announced some other hair brained scheme to burn rubbish (i think ?) and use the emissions to create electricity.   But, Rattenbury hasn’t announced how much this new scheme will add to each electricity bill pa.

So, why doesn’t Rattenbury release the aggregate impact of alternative sources for generating electricity on all our electricity bills ?????    Surely, they must know !     But why worry us with the potential impact of that on employment in the Territory, on families, on self funded retirees, on pensioners and those already struggling with the cost of living impact of  constant rises in ACT Government charges and Annual Rates !   I’m sure we are all too busy to consider that anyway.

 

 

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42 Responses to “Greener” Electricity in the ACT – At What Cost ??
#1
dungfungus10:18 am, 11 Mar 14

The problem with solar power is that it is only available when the sun shines. There is technology to store surplus production and use it when the sun isn’t shining but the concept isn’t mature and it is very expensive to apply to a commercial application.
The problem with the current ACT government’s foray in to solar power is that we will be overweighted with solar energy in off-peak daylight hours and no one on the grid will want to buy it.
When there is no solar generation (peak demand times) and the wind isn’t blowing we will have to pay premium rates from the grid which translates into even higher electricity prices.
It appears the government has learned nothing from the Better Place debacle.

#2
Grail11:19 am, 11 Mar 14

Here’s an easy way to reduce the price of your electricity bill: use less electricity.

My two-person household uses about half the electricity of the “average single occupant dwelling” according to the graphs on our bills. We just turn things off at the wall when we’re not using them. Stopped watching TV? Turn it off at the wall. Between the TV, the games consoles, the DVD player and the stereo system, you’re consuming about 20-60W doing nothing. Done with the computer for the night? Turn it off at the wall, there’s another 2-60W savings depending on how efficient your computer is.

If nobody is actually in the lounge room, turn the light off. If nobody is in the backyard, turn the yard light off. It’s really quite simple. My electricity bill won’t be rising by more than about $200 a year, since that’s the most I’m spending on electricity at present anyway. The rest is connection fees.

So stick it to the man! Turn your shit off when you’re not using it!

#3
HiddenDragon11:48 am, 11 Mar 14

Good point, surely there’d be room on the back of the quarterly electricity bill for another little graph or a pie chart which showed the respective components of the bill: network maintenance, generation and renewable generation costs etc.

If doing it on a household basis would be too uncomfortable for some, there could at least be system-wide information on renewable generation costs in the glossy, expensive-looking (and fairly vacuous) advertising/propaganda booklets which are often included with the bills.

Over the next few years, the numbers of people who look closely at utility bills, and the reasons why they often increase well above CPI, is likely to grow somewhat.

#4
switch12:45 pm, 11 Mar 14

Grail said :

So stick it to the man! Turn your shit off when you’re not using it!

While I mostly agree with you and try to turn off “iron-age” appliances and lights when they’re not in use, I’ve noticed that modern electronics really don’t like being turned on/off – that’s when they go “pop” and refuse to work again without an expensive repair that wipes out any electricity savings.

Anyway, well-designed modern electronics uses 3/5′s of f-all electricity in standby nowadays, so it’s not worth the bother, especially if they lose all their settings.

#5
arescarti421:49 pm, 11 Mar 14

The number one reason why retail electricity costs have been escalating in recent years is due to network charges. The existing regulatory regime essentially rewards network firms for over investing in network infrastructure passing the cost along to consumers.

The bulk of your power bill is paying for poles and wires, not generation or the carbon tax or renewable or anything else. If you’re concerned about increasing power costs, then that’s where you should focus your energy.

dungfungus said :

The problem with the current ACT government’s foray in to solar power is that we will be overweighted with solar energy in off-peak daylight hours and no one on the grid will want to buy it.

There are no off peak daylight hours. It’s true that household use spikes in the morning and evening, but demand is strong from 9-5 due to industry/business/retail being online. In fact when electricity spot prices are highest is usually mid afternoon on very hot days in summer, when everyone is running their ACs full bore, and you have pretty much everyone, households, retail, industry, etc online. That’s also when output from solar is at its greatest.

The bigger problem with the ACT Government’s renewable ambitions is that if their goal is to reduce the ACTs CO2 emissions, investing in solar is a pretty cost-ineffective way to do so.

#6
laraeddy2:24 pm, 11 Mar 14

A couple of points in general response.

Firstly, having run quite a few consultancies for one of those ‘pluck a figure out of the air and justify it guestimates’ about what a given policy change does to the price of something, it is absolutely the case that you can fudge around those figures to get whatever result you like – they are a joke. Among other things, it depends our your assumptions and what you include/leave out. So it will always be possible to prove that coal is cheaper today if you don’t include all the real costs of coal-fired power. Last time I looked, Victoria was on the national grid – are we chipping in for the cost to the people of Morwell for their town being almost uninhabitable for the last month nearly ? And that because the company running the Hazelwood mine did not do its rehabilitation of old parts of the mine site properly – despite the billions in profits it has made over the years. Which in turn is partly because the Victorian Government would not make the company do it. Maybe because it might have driven prices up to something approaching the real cost ????

Instead it becomes a separate charge to the taxpayer, a cost to the firies who spend their time and effort trying to put the blasted thing out, and an uncosted burden of ill-health foisted onto the people of the Latrobe Valley. We routinely subsidise/hide the cost of the carbon economy in this way (ie, grant direct subsidies, not make them fix up the mess they leave behind), but don’t account for that in these next-to-useless comparisons.

Secondly, the issue about solar and peak power. Yes, peak power is a huge issue at least in part because it is what is really driving much of the price increases – the need to have the infrastructure able to cope with the peak load. An analogy I’ve heard is that if roads were like electricity infrastructure, the Sydney Harbour Bridge would have to be hundreds of lanes wide to cope with a couple of hours of traffic each day – and that costs a lot of money to do.

But even better, peak power, especially in SA, Vic, ACT and NSW is precisely on hot, sun-shiny days, because we are all driving great big airconditioners in our great big houses. See http://www.esaa.com.au/media/heatwave_peak_demand_1 and https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-peak-power-and-how-does-it-affect-prices-10222. So solar arguably has a lot to offer in supplying power when, in fact, we do most use it – once we can get the wires and poles bit sorted out.

#7
Eb_Flow4:09 pm, 11 Mar 14

The Ministers media release indicates that up to 23 megawatts of bioenergy will be supported through the feed-in tariff entitlement. The process for allocating this is a reverse tariff auction, so the cost wont be known until the deal is done, although I’m sure the bureaucrats made an estimate that shows the additional cost is insignificant. Residents in Queanbeyan pay significantly more for electricity than us in ACT so we should be grateful we aren’t paying for the massive distribution infrastructure in NSW.
What I don’t understand is why you can’t still charge tip fees as whether the organic waste goes to a hole or a power station you are still getting it out of yr trailer and should pay.

#8
Nylex_Clock4:20 pm, 11 Mar 14

dungfungus said :

The problem with solar power is that it is only available when the sun shines. There is technology to store surplus production and use it when the sun isn’t shining but the concept isn’t mature and it is very expensive to apply to a commercial application.
.

Depends what you prefer – “not mature (yet) but safe and clean”, or, “catches fire, threatening the health of thousands and causing the evacuation of many hundreds of hectares of land”.

Being a believer in progress, I would plump for the former, myself. What is *your* stance on *progress*, Dungy?

Oops!

Looks like your comment was out of date. Solar thermal is now a maturing commercial reality:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_solar_thermal_power_stations

Notice something about that list?
Australia, a country bathed in immense quantities of sun, seems to not be in this race.
Apparently, *some* people in this country think we should stick to making money by letting non-contributors like Gina Reinhart dig up our dirt and sell it overseas for us, while *other* countries develop and innovate their way towards the technological future.

This is why I used to vote Greens. When Bob Brown was in charge, this is exactly what he was advocating we do, and had we followed his advice, this country would today be the high-tech jewel in the crown of human civilisation.

Instead we have lots of messy holes strewn about the outback, no manufacturing sector, and a decrepit energy industry that’s stuck in the last century and is licensed to thieve from us..

#9
rommeldog569:53 am, 12 Mar 14

Additionally, today, the ACT Government has announced plans for wind farm electricity generation. The feed in tariff will be guaranteed by the ACT Government for about 6 years.

The cost for this one new source of electricity ? $1.50+ pw to each electricity account. Doesn’t sound like much in isolation does it. But that will be $78 pa extra just for this one initiative. What about the cost increases to our electricity bills for each Solar farm ???? So, what’s the bottom line Katy Gallagher – what will all our electricity bills increase by in aggregate for all this “greener” electricity ???? Surely, the ACT Government must know ????

I’m certainly not against greener electricity, but it has to be affordable – not driven by an ideology (or by the “balance of power” in the Legislative Assembly). With all the other ACT Government charges rapidly rising, the increases to Annual Rates, the potential budget black holes like the Light Rail, etc, this sure is a very expensive place to live – and mostly it seems, IMHO, because of decisions by the ACT Government ?

#10
howeph12:07 pm, 12 Mar 14

@rommeldog56

My understanding is that to achieve the 90% renewable energy target the government estimates the cost to peak at an extra $4 a household per week ($208 per year) and then decline after that.

Source: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/act-plans-vast-expansion-in-renewable-energy-20140226-33isg.html

Should we trust those numbers?

We’ll see; but I’ll make these points:

* Most renewable energy projects have been delivered cheaper than originally estimated.

* Even at double that price I think it is an investment in our future that we can’t afford not to make.

* We will still be paying significantly less than residents across the border, in Queanbeyan, are paying now.

#11
watto2312:41 pm, 12 Mar 14

rommeldog56 said :

Additionally, today, the ACT Government has announced plans for wind farm electricity generation.

The feed in tariff will be guaranteed by the ACT Government for about 6 years.

The cost for this one new source of electricity ?

$1.50+ pw to each electricity account.

Doesn’t sound like much in isolation does it. But that will be $78 pa extra just for this one initiative.

What about the cost increases to our electricity bills for each Solar farm ????

So, what’s the bottom line Katy Gallagher – what will all our electricity bills increase by in aggregate for all this “greener” electricity ???? Surely, the ACT Government must know ????

I’m certainly not against greener electricity, but it has to be affordable – not driven by an ideology (or by the “balance of power” in the Legislative Assembly).

With all the other ACT Government charges rapidly rising, the increases to Annual Rates, the potential budget black holes like the Light Rail, etc, this sure is a very expensive place to live – and mostly it seems, IMHO, because of decisions by the ACT Government ?

One could argue political ideology drives both sides of this. It seems people are more than happy to support green energy until they have to pay for it. Given the very high average salary and low unemployment rate in the ACT (Well for now anyway), you could easily argue Canberrans can afford more green energy right now and the increased costs are not exactly huge.

The issue is both sides of politics rarely meet in the middle so the coalition won’t spend a cent on anything useful for the community and labor spends everything on infrastructure benefiting the community. If both sides would meet in the middle on these kinds of things rather than using them as political fights similar to what has become of the NBN, we’d all be much better off.

#12
howeph1:04 pm, 12 Mar 14

Rommeldog56 said:

“Now, the ACT Government has announced some other hair brained scheme to burn rubbish (i think ?) and use the emissions to create electricity”

The rubbish is not “burnt” which would produce CO2 and other toxic gasses.

They are loooking at gasification, pryolysis or plasma gasification.

Which in addition to producing electricity can also potentially produce other value-added products such as biochar and transport fuels.

Sounds smart, not “hair brained”, to me.

#13
dungfungus1:15 pm, 12 Mar 14

A few years ago, we had the choice through ActewAGL of paying extra for “green” electricity. This proves that it costs more than electricty from coal fired power stations.

Given that the ACT will soon have almost 100% green electricity and coal fired electricity will still be available from the grid, is ActewAGL going to give us the choice to buy the cheaper coal stuff?

Why should we let someone else get cheaper electricity because it makes a few elitists feel good?

#14
howeph2:02 pm, 12 Mar 14

dungfungus said :

A few years ago, we had the choice through ActewAGL of paying extra for “green” electricity.

You still can choose to pay extra for green electricity.

dungfungus said :

This proves that it costs more than electricty from coal fired power stations.

No it doesn’t “prove” anything.

Because solar and wind power plants have no fuel cost they can always underbid fossil fuels in the electricity market. That is one of the reasons why the Australian NEM wholesale price of electricity is falling.

The reason for the voluntary extra price of green electricity is to help finance the construction of renewable power plants, not the energy itself.

dungfungus said :

Given that the ACT will soon have almost 100% green electricity and coal fired electricity will still be available from the grid, is ActewAGL going to give us the choice to buy the cheaper coal stuff?

Why should we let someone else get cheaper electricity because it makes a few elitists feel good?

Only if you agree to pay extra for the environmental and health damage you cause. Oh, and you’ll have to pay a lot more besides to keep the coal power plants afloat, because the coal power plants are loosing money, as they are being priced out of the market by renewables. Enjoy.

#15
banco7:38 pm, 12 Mar 14

Grail said :

Here’s an easy way to reduce the price of your electricity bill: use less electricity.

My two-person household uses about half the electricity of the “average single occupant dwelling” according to the graphs on our bills. We just turn things off at the wall when we’re not using them. Stopped watching TV? Turn it off at the wall. Between the TV, the games consoles, the DVD player and the stereo system, you’re consuming about 20-60W doing nothing. Done with the computer for the night? Turn it off at the wall, there’s another 2-60W savings depending on how efficient your computer is.

I’m sure Shane Rattenbury will soon award you the order of Lenin for your efforts.

#16
dungfungus8:02 pm, 12 Mar 14

howeph said :

dungfungus said :

A few years ago, we had the choice through ActewAGL of paying extra for “green” electricity.

You still can choose to pay extra for green electricity.

dungfungus said :

This proves that it costs more than electricty from coal fired power stations.

No it doesn’t “prove” anything.

Because solar and wind power plants have no fuel cost they can always underbid fossil fuels in the electricity market. That is one of the reasons why the Australian NEM wholesale price of electricity is falling.

The reason for the voluntary extra price of green electricity is to help finance the construction of renewable power plants, not the energy itself.

dungfungus said :

Given that the ACT will soon have almost 100% green electricity and coal fired electricity will still be available from the grid, is ActewAGL going to give us the choice to buy the cheaper coal stuff?

Why should we let someone else get cheaper electricity because it makes a few elitists feel good?

Only if you agree to pay extra for the environmental and health damage you cause. Oh, and you’ll have to pay a lot more besides to keep the coal power plants afloat, because the coal power plants are loosing money, as they are being priced out of the market by renewables. Enjoy.

Er, if I choose to pay more for green energy, it obviously costs more than the other stuff. More means the opposite to less.
Boy, they have really brainwashed you haven’t they?

#17
howeph11:55 pm, 12 Mar 14

dungfungus said :

Er, if I choose to pay more for green energy, it obviously costs more than the other stuff. More means the opposite to less.
Boy, they have really brainwashed you haven’t they?

Er, renewable energy is the cheapest* source of electricity in the National Electricity Market because wind and solar’s marginal cost of energy is zero. Therefore it costs less. Less means he opposite of more.

Boy, you don’t know how supply and demand works do you?.

And your not interested in learning how the energy sector operates so that you can make informed comments are you? That would be “elitist thinking”. And you just can’t trust people who might know something about what they are talking about can you?

* A caveat and maybe of interest to some: Whilst I don’t think this has happened in the Australian energy market, in Germany there have been cases where coal generators actually had to pay money to provide their energy to the grid i.e. their energy had a negative price. This happens when there is a sudden excess in supply, the coal generators can’t reduce supply fast enough and because it is mandatory to accept low carbon energy in preference to other sources.

Source: http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21587782-europes-electricity-providers-face-existential-threat-how-lose-half-trillion-euros

#18
HiddenDragon11:31 am, 13 Mar 14

howeph
11:55 pm, 12 Mar 14 – said

…..:* A caveat and maybe of interest to some: Whilst I don’t think this has happened in the Australian energy market, in Germany there have been cases where coal generators actually had to pay money to provide their energy to the grid i.e. their energy had a negative price. This happens when there is a sudden excess in supply, the coal generators can’t reduce supply fast enough and because it is mandatory to accept low carbon energy in preference to other sources.

Source: http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21587782-europes-electricity-providers-face-existential-threat-how-lose-half-trillion-euros.”

If we could have something like this from NSW, and others, when there is insufficient wind/sun that would be very nice.

#19
Chop7112:36 pm, 13 Mar 14

It costs a lot to feel warm and fuzzy in this town.

#20
dungfungus6:29 pm, 13 Mar 14

Chop71 said :

It costs a lot to feel warm and fuzzy in this town.

According to some people on this thread the cost is “zero”.
Someone else has to pay for it somehow.

#21
Maya12311:20 pm, 13 Mar 14

banco said :

Grail said :

Here’s an easy way to reduce the price of your electricity bill: use less electricity.

My two-person household uses about half the electricity of the “average single occupant dwelling” according to the graphs on our bills. We just turn things off at the wall when we’re not using them. Stopped watching TV? Turn it off at the wall. Between the TV, the games consoles, the DVD player and the stereo system, you’re consuming about 20-60W doing nothing. Done with the computer for the night? Turn it off at the wall, there’s another 2-60W savings depending on how efficient your computer is.

I’m sure Shane Rattenbury will soon award you the order of Lenin for your efforts.

I take it you have a large electricity bill, because you sound jealous. You too can reduce your bill, if you care to. My electricity bill, according to the graph on the back, is about a quarter for the average household my size.

#22
howeph10:27 am, 14 Mar 14

dungfungus said :

Chop71 said :

It costs a lot to feel warm and fuzzy in this town.

According to some people on this thread the cost is “zero”.
Someone else has to pay for it somehow.

Source?

#23
gazket4:13 pm, 14 Mar 14

no body was buying arty farty green energy from ACTEW so now the Labour Greens are forcing it on us.

Labour Greens are taking food from poor people and pensioners table. they have no idea what so ever how people are already squeezing every dollar they have to pay their bills and keep eating. old age pensioners are turning off their TV and lights and going to bed at sundown so they can still afford to buy can food and not have to eat 2 minute noodles.

and before some lefty bleets “source” my 73 years old deaf from birth father does the above, the poor old guy freaks out if I turn the TV when I visit.

#24
dungfungus7:30 am, 15 Mar 14

howeph said :

dungfungus said :

Chop71 said :

It costs a lot to feel warm and fuzzy in this town.

According to some people on this thread the cost is “zero”.
Someone else has to pay for it somehow.

Source?

From one of your own posts:
“…. wind and solar’s marginal cost of energy is zero”.

#25
dungfungus7:32 am, 15 Mar 14

gazket said :

no body was buying arty farty green energy from ACTEW so now the Labour Greens are forcing it on us.

Labour Greens are taking food from poor people and pensioners table. they have no idea what so ever how people are already squeezing every dollar they have to pay their bills and keep eating. old age pensioners are turning off their TV and lights and going to bed at sundown so they can still afford to buy can food and not have to eat 2 minute noodles.

and before some lefty bleets “source” my 73 years old deaf from birth father does the above, the poor old guy freaks out if I turn the TV when I visit.

I’ll bet your father has always been a Labor voter.

#26
laraeddy11:39 pm, 15 Mar 14

gazket said :

no body was buying arty farty green energy from ACTEW so now the Labour Greens are forcing it on us.

Labour Greens are taking food from poor people and pensioners table. they have no idea what so ever how people are already squeezing every dollar they have to pay their bills and keep eating. old age pensioners are turning off their TV and lights and going to bed at sundown so they can still afford to buy can food and not have to eat 2 minute noodles.

and before some lefty bleets “source” my 73 years old deaf from birth father does the above, the poor old guy freaks out if I turn the TV when I visit.

And in his 70s, my dear old dad used to get totally freaked out by ATM machines, especially late at night (well, as late as 70-odd year old people stay out at night – but then sometimes it did get dark on a winter night coming home from the hospital). Rather than play paranoid freak games, I’d actually go up to the machine with him and be there if he needed some reassurance. Another way would have been to contribute to his fear through the sort of crazy, ranting fear-mongering which you have made very clear to us all here.

But then, of course, ATMs aren’t some horrible ‘Labo(u)r Green’ conspiracy – whatever the hell that means. No, they were very democratically made available to us via election or some form of community agreement, and thanks to the good graces of the various mega-banks that we do elect on a such a regular basis, and who are so keen to look after our interests so unselfishly. I wonder what you would think about the ACT Govt charging you $2 or $3 for every time your wanted to get access to your own stuff …… Now that might be worth a rant on here – but no, silence on that sort of thing. I’d be kinda happy to see this mythical “Labo(u)r Green” conspiracy set up a toll booth on your driveway and charge you a couple of bucks to drive in – it would amount to the same thing, and be something worth complaining about.

And if you want to know who is making it hard for your dad to eat properly, I’d actually take more of a look at why Woollies and Coles pay farmers one fifth of bugger all for their produce and drive them into poverty too – and then peddle it to us at many times the price.

Anyone who has actually spent three nanoseconds looking at Aus politics at the moment will know that those two parties aren’t actually best friends. If I were Shane Rattenbury I would probably not be too confident of still being a Minister for much longer than about 4 months out from the next ACT election – no matter how good a job he might have done in the meantime.

The world moves on, dear soul, and it you want to vent your anger at it by spreading crippling anxiety through your defenseless older relatives, that is your, and your family’s, business. Personally, I don’t think some temporary political construct that feeds ugly worms in your ‘imagination’ (and my goodness, that is a terrible use of that otherwise wonderful word) has much of a case to answer.

Or maybe you are just some stooge trolling in here ??

#27
Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd8:32 am, 16 Mar 14

gazket said :

no body was buying arty farty green energy from ACTEW so now the Labour Greens are forcing it on us.

Labour Greens are taking food from poor people and pensioners table. they have no idea what so ever how people are already squeezing every dollar they have to pay their bills and keep eating. old age pensioners are turning off their TV and lights and going to bed at sundown so they can still afford to buy can food and not have to eat 2 minute noodles.

and before some lefty bleets “source” my 73 years old deaf from birth father does the above, the poor old guy freaks out if I turn the TV when I visit.

Can you post evidence of labor and greens stealing from your dad?

#28
howeph2:30 pm, 16 Mar 14

dungfungus said :

howeph said :

dungfungus said :

Chop71 said :

It costs a lot to feel warm and fuzzy in this town.

According to some people on this thread the cost is “zero”.
Someone else has to pay for it somehow.

Source?

From one of your own posts:
“…. wind and solar’s marginal cost of energy is zero”.

You do know what marginal costs are don’t you?

#29
Masquara9:59 pm, 16 Mar 14

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd said :

gazket said :

no body was buying arty farty green energy from ACTEW so now the Labour Greens are forcing it on us.

Labour Greens are taking food from poor people and pensioners table. they have no idea what so ever how people are already squeezing every dollar they have to pay their bills and keep eating. old age pensioners are turning off their TV and lights and going to bed at sundown so they can still afford to buy can food and not have to eat 2 minute noodles.

and before some lefty bleets “source” my 73 years old deaf from birth father does the above, the poor old guy freaks out if I turn the TV when I visit.

Can you post evidence of labor and greens stealing from your dad?

I just love the way the Labor/Green lefties claim that solar energy is going to be cheap – then charge the poor extra for “green” energy. FAIL!

#30
gazket11:41 pm, 16 Mar 14

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd said :

gazket said :

no body was buying arty farty green energy from ACTEW so now the Labour Greens are forcing it on us.

Labour Greens are taking food from poor people and pensioners table. they have no idea what so ever how people are already squeezing every dollar they have to pay their bills and keep eating. old age pensioners are turning off their TV and lights and going to bed at sundown so they can still afford to buy can food and not have to eat 2 minute noodles.

and before some lefty bleets “source” my 73 years old deaf from birth father does the above, the poor old guy freaks out if I turn the TV when I visit.

Can you post evidence of labor and greens stealing from your dad?

Labour Greens carbon tax, the biggest fraud and theft in Australian history.

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