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Observa on the electricity crisis « Previous | |Next »
November 21, 2003

I am posting remarks by Observa on the ongoing electricity crisis in South Australia. The remarks were initially comments to this previous post. They highlight the politics played within state governments over the privatisation of public utilities, and the effects this politics can have down the track.

Observa writes:

I heard an exchange with Sandy Canale of AGLSA and Pat Conlon the Energy Minister along with some irate callers on ABC Radio this morning. Sandy is the bearer of more bad news on prices- ie the 5% increase on top of the 25-30%increases for small end users already, which I believe is largely due to the end of cross subsidies from big end users.

Be that as it may, Sandy has some other points to make about higher pricing in SA which can be found at the AGL website under media releases of 28th Oct 2003. Firstly he points out that SA has the greatest load variability requirements of all States. (Large idle network capacity for peak summer load has to be paid for) Secondly he is quoted as saying-"Residential customers bills are higher in SA than Vic due predominantly to the high network charges levied on all customers. These network charges account for the major component of the average electricity bill(43 per cent)." He claims SA network charges are 40-50% higher than Vic which he states is backed up by Prof Dick Blandy's 5AA Oct23 2003 statement(albeit somewhat hedgingly) that "If you treble the value of poles and wires, you're going to have some impact on the cost of electricity." For that diplomatic statement we should all read- The Olsen Govt maximised its immediate return from the sale of ETSA and bugger the long term costs to consumer.

With a gun to its head from the Keating inspired reform plan and a Labor Opposition hyper-critical on idealogical grounds, of its every move on inevitable privatisation, it had to look like it was doing a good deal. Essentially Olsen cut a good short term deal forced on him by Rann and ran from the long term consequences. The problem is that Rann has to run with the long term consequences of his short-sightedness in Opposition. Now he froths the position that AGL will raise prices 'over his dead body' (and probably the corpse of the watchdog Lew Owens)Is it any wonder with all this going on, that an intelligent bloke like Dick Blandy would diplomatically say that flogging off something for 3 times its value would have 'some impact'.

Now that all the impacts of past choices, coupled with the vagary of SA's load variability problem have been etched firmly into the voter's electicity bills, along comes AGL to remind them that of course costs move on. Sandy says- "AGL's costs would be further increased by the regulated Murraylink and a new network outage system" as well as the usual rises in running costs. Hence AGL holds out its hand to the regulator and says 'Please sir can I have some more, the porridge is getting a bit thin' Actually 5% more which it is happy to justify. The answer of course from Rann to his profligate overseer Owens is, "What the Dickens do they think they're playing at. Give them gruel the thankless urchins!"

Of course he can get away with this for only so long before he unsheaths the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head, with his self-interested baying to the masses. That sword is like the one unsheathed in California. He can't afford in the long run to shoot the AGL messenger. Is AGL overfed and cossetted or is it a normal profit enterprise. For that answer we'll have to watch its share price over the next year or so.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:52 AM | | Comments (1)


Re, Electricity wastage and mismanagement.

I've chosen just one aspect of electricity wastage and nobody is either interested, have no power nor have understanding of the problem.

Street lighting, supposed to be on at night and off whole day. A few years ago I've noticed many street lights are 24 hours a day on. I pointed to relevant ministers and ETSA and nothing has happened. The authorities have promissed to pay a $20 for each reported faulty lamp not fixed within 5 working days.

With the new government came a promiss to fix electricity. From my perspective it is worse. The regulatory body have stopped paying the $20 reporting incentives because there was too many reports. In consequence hardly any lamp was fixed and I have reported hundreds of them.

Why is it important?

We the taxpayers receive the bill for the service we neither ordered nor want. The extra energy creates more polution. The system gets overloaded causing black outs when we need it most and cause equimpent failure. Our children watch and learn that waste and mismanagment is a norm so it is also demoralising. We have gone to the moon and we are unable to make lamps tourn off when they are not needed?

In my experience ETSA never was nor is properly geared up (dedicated) to fix those kind of wastes.

How many of lamps are on permanently? Lots and everywhere. I estimated that up to 5% of all lamps. some streets have over 70% of all lamps on full time and others are better.

Despite ETSA denying payment, I'll insist to be paid and also payment should give incentives to ETSA to fix faults and us to report them.

So far I was unable to find any TV reported willing to make a report or a newspaper reported to make a good article.

I propose a willing journalist to take me or go himself with a camera and note the time to find a fist 200 lamps permanently on during a day or how many lamps are on within a square mile of Adelaide City.

This is just one aspect of energy waste, easy to show and not be anymore surprised of high prices and shortages. should we expose this mismanagement, there are other ones to be shown.