Electric Dreams

By Brian Tessmann, QDO President

The superstorm that rolled though South Australian truly was destructive to the power grid. However, what was truly destructive was the political witch hunt the prevailed in the aftermath of the failure. I struggled to make sense of the claims against South Australia’s large scale renewable power sources when I compared it to my experience of overseas power generation.

In California the vast majority of their electricity is generated from large scale Wind, Hydro and particularly massive solar plants without much roof top solar. This has not only proved reliable in a modern grid, but delivers power at a tiny fraction of the cost we are paying in Queensland. In fact one family I spoke to from Orange County was totally reliant on the grid with a monthly bill of only $14.

In European countries such as Germany, wind power is so common that there are always at least 140 to 240 wind turbines in view at all times. In Leipzig two turbines loomed large in view through my hotel window and the only complaints from consumers including farmers were occasional impacts between turbine blades and birds of prey.

Obviously Australia needs to move towards large scale renewal power sources but we must note the cost of power generation has little to do with what consumers pay to source electricity. In Australia, power generation costs generally are less than one quarter of the overall consumer bill. In Queensland power bills are mostly made up of transmission costs and paying the government a rate of return on Queensland grossly overvalued electricity assets. The government has also loaded these utilities with state debt, leaving it up to electricity customers to pay back.

Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation’s annual survey highlighted that electricity remains a major issue for Queensland dairy farmers with costs approaching 10 cents for every litre of milk produced. It’s time to stop the bickering about how we generate power and time to address the real government driven costs in the system driving prices up.