Letter to the editor: Consumers pay price for the wind rush

July 22nd, 2016

This Letter to the Editor was published in the Australian Financial Review on 21 July 2016.

The editorial, SA energy madness (July 18), hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, it is businesses and consumers who are paying the price for the rush into wind power, which is unable to meet baseload power needs.

As national energy market data shows, during last week’s electricity price crisis in SA, the state’s wind turbines were consuming more electricity than they were generating. When South Australian consumers and businesses needed more power to run their furnaces and warm their businesses and homes, the wind farms were not only failing to meet the need – they were making matters worse.

And the green lobby group the Australia Institute knows it. Its foot-stamping letter to the AFR (Batteries beat baseload, July 20) is not only wrong, it confirms the underlying problem: current renewables technology is more expensive, does not do the job and the result is a “complex and difficult” situation.

SA businesses who had to pay 100 times the usual price last week would undoubtedly agree on the “disruption” point. But they are unlikely to be convinced by the Australia Institute’s head-in-the-sand assurance that it will all be OK, because batteries will solve the problem. Perhaps new battery technology might help – one day. But it doesn’t now and nobody can say with any certainty when it might.

In the meantime, SA will simply have to suffer with the nation’s consistently highest electricity prices and the nation’s highest power disconnection rate; ie increasing costs for businesses and consumers, and energy poverty.

The only “rescue” option available for the government in last week’s crisis was to desperately urge the reopening of an inactive gas-fired generator.

Steve Wright

Director, Energy Resource Information Centre

 

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