Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Cr Grundy: Power prices killing our livestock sector

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High electricity prices are killing the district’s livestock sector, making life difficult for businesses and households, claims an elected counsellor.

Naracoorte-Lucindale Council Cr Cameron Grundy says farmers who used irrigation to produce more, adding to our gross domestic product, “have simply turned off their pumps”, thereby producing less.

In an interview with this newspaper [Naracoorte Community News], Cr Grundy said that for the district, it was vitally important that the manufacturing and processing sector could afford to operate.

“Our livestock sector is dependent upon the meat processing sector being able to operate effectively, as livestock producers do not have the option of exporting live animals, unlike grain producers who can export their raw commodities,” he said.

“Hotels and other hospitality businesses are closing because of high electricity prices.

“The terrible irony is that in South Australia, some 20 years ago, we enjoyed some of the cheapest electricity in the world, only to now find we suffer some of the dearest electricity charges in the world.”

Cr Grundy claimed, “the energy policy makers have created a situation where pensioners and the working poor are reluctant to use air conditioning for heating and cooling”.

“AEMO is currently warning that we should expect power blackouts during the coming summer due to a lack of power-generating capacity.

“How has it gotten to this stage in a first world developed nation?” he questioned.

Cr Grundy referred to a recent community forum organised by the visiting Country Cabinet in Naracoorte, where Emma Castine asked Energy Minister Tony Koutsantonis about the lack of power line capacity in the South East due to increased power requirements.

“His (Mr Koutsantonis) answer was that they knew about the problem but were powerless to do anything about it.

“How can that be? Who is running the state?

“Don’t we elect politicians to run the state and country for the benefit of our community?” Cr Grundy asked.

He said the state government had all the authority to legislate or regulate power generators to protect the South Australian citizen, first and foremost by forcing power generators and retailers to provide adequate power to our community and businesses at a reasonable cost.

“Both state and federal governments need to own the problem and fix it, as government policy is what has caused the current problems.

“I believe a number of factors have contributed to the current situation, including the privatisation of generation assets and distribution lines, the introduction of retailers that were not required under the previous arrangements, and the pursuit of the Net Zero 2050 policy.

“This has been designed to remove wealth and prosperity from developed nations to developing nations.

“Given that electricity is an essential service, the associated assets should not have been privatised.”

Cr Grundy said the former premier, John Olsen, had said privatisation would lead to more efficiencies and cheaper power, while Peter Costello contended it was not appropriate for the government to own power generation or distribution assets.

“Ironically, these assets were sold or leased to entities sponsored by the Singaporean and Chinese governments.

“Insiders have suggested to me that there is no real need for retailers, as was the case pre-privatisation.

“Are retailers merely clipping the ticket with no tangible benefit to consumers?

He claimed the Net Zero 2050 policy was also undermining the energy industry.

“We see large solar and wind generation schemes that are partly owned by the superannuation and union movements, which receive huge subsidies from the government, which go on to fund election campaigns for those parties that have assisted in creating this situation.

“These renewable schemes are paid for twice by the consumer—once by way of their taxes subsidising the schemes and secondly by way of some of the highest power prices in the world.

“The government has also had to rig the market so that renewables can compete.”

Previously, he said power was bought and sold in 24-hour increments.

“Power is now bought from generators and sold to retailers in much smaller increments—just in minutes of power—thereby allowing, for instance, solar if the sun is shining or wind towers if the wind is blowing to power the grid cheaply.

“This obviously handicaps our base-load power generators, which cannot start or stop generating quickly.

“They now have to run all of the time with a view to supplying at nighttime only, with all of the total running costs.”

Cr Grundy said the situation was counter-productive for prospective electricity generators who were considering investing in base-load electricity generation, which was necessary.

He said South Australia was faced with two problems.

“Unrealistically high electricity prices and a looming power generation/supply shortfall.

“The federal government could consider nationalising the whole power network, though this would be difficult.

“At the very least, the government should cease subsidising the renewable power-associated schemes in order to encourage investment in base-load power generation.”

Cr Grundy said recent nuclear energy technology has improved remarkably with additional safety and reduced half-life, coupled with better efficiency of energy extraction from the source.

“Small nuclear reactors could be installed at sites where coal and gas plants fed power into the grid previously.

“This would negate the requirement of additional power lines, which seems to be the plan at the moment—essentially two electricity grids, one for renewables and one for base load power.”

He said current government policies were forcing Australian households and businesses to pay some of the highest power prices in the world.

“These policies are embraced to appease climate change and global warming activists who base their claims on algorithmic modelling.

“No Australian effort will alter the global temperature or weather pattern.

“Embracing these policies will only achieve one thing – making Australia poorer with a reduced living standard by exporting our industry and jobs offshore.

“Privatising electricity assets does not lead to cheaper or more reliable electricity but instead leads to dearer and less reliable power in a dynamic where the shareholders’ interests must be served first.”

Cr Grundy said more Australians were fed up with the pricing of electricity and the looming shortages.

“And furthermore, we are not convinced of the so-called benefits to the environment that are purported to have been delivered through the foolish initiatives that have been adopted by both sides of politics and the bureaucracy, with both groups having been led by the nose by the United Nations.

“These radical schemes, which require huge energy input from fossil fuels such as industrial battery storage, only serve to allow the wealthy to feel pious about their discretionary spending.

“I predict that the first major political party that has the courage to reject the Net Zero 2050 policy and all those associated costs and burdens the population and business must bear will win that next election.

“If any party lacked the courage to reject the Net Zero 2050 agreement and required some additional “cement”, they should call a referendum and ask the Australian people.

“Would any political party have the courage to do either?” he asked.

Naracoorte Community News 24bJanuary 2024

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

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