Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Apartment buildings face massive bill for electric vehicle charging stations

The costs and other obstacles are such that NO charging stations are likely to be provided in most existing apartment buildings. That might effectively prohibit electric car ownership for most apartment dwellers, a very large number

Body corporates are facing costs in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars to retrofit complexes to accommodate the power to supply electric vehicles, experts have warned.

There’s also likely to be confrontation between those who want to retrofit a complex and unit owners who do not drive nor live there and have no interest in the paying for an EV charging stations, says strata title specialist Chris Irons.

Unit owners may not even have the right to install an EV charger in their ‘exclusive’ car space even if they foot the bill, the former Queensland commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management said.

“If you have exclusive use of a parking space, or even it is on the title, to install a charging station may require a motion at an AGM to be passed as technically the car park is common property,” Mr Irons said.

“Even if the body corporate decides to install several charging stations as a convenience, but on common property, there may be owners who do not own electric vehicles and do not want money spent on them.

“You also have the issue of where they are going to be placed and how is the vehicle owner charged for the use of the power if it is a shared meter.”

Transformers for established complexes are highly unlikely to cope with the power demand to service dozens of EV charging stations, said Master Electricians Australia CEO Malcolm Richards.

Body corporates can expect to pay more than $100,000 alone just to upgrade a transformer, before pricing the cost of retrofitting the wiring for their complex and individual meters, he said.

“In terms of putting car charging stations in the basement of existing premises, you have got a significant headache for the body corporate to put infrastructure in place,” Mr Richards said.

“They have to determine what type of chargers are going to be installed, how much extra power they going to draw.


Power time bomb for industries, jobs

Energy Minister Angus Taylor says the future of Australia’s manufacturing and mining sectors “will be won or lost in the next decade”, warning the early closures of coal-fired power plants risked hundreds of thousands of jobs and power supply shortages.

Speaking at the Illawarra First Energy and Renewables summit in Wollongong on Tuesday, Mr Taylor will say there is no point “planning for a green steel or aluminium industry, if high energy prices decimate the industries we have today”.

After Scott Morrison warned Australia’s coal-fired generation fleet must “run to its life” to keep energy prices down, Mr Taylor will say AGL’s decision to bring forward the closures of Bayswater and Loy Yang A “and Brookfield’s bid to accelerate these closure dates even further only compounds the risk” of energy shortages.

“I’ve been calling this out since the day I became Energy Minister. That hasn’t always been a popular position – there are plenty of others who are happy to hand-wave, hiding behind technicalities to proclaim ‘it will all be OK’,” Mr Taylor will say.

“But we’ve seen this movie before. If a major generator is closed down, there’s a gap in supply that must be replaced. And if there is no replacement, it’s customers who wear the pain.”

Speaking to blue-collar workers in the Illawarra, Mr Taylor will say those who focus on getting to carbon neutrality through a centrally planned, linear pathway put energy-intensive jobs at risk.

“While long-term goals are important, our focus must be firmly on the road in front of us,” he will say. “Let’s be clear – these energy companies provide an essential service. Customers must come first. And to keep energy companies and investors honest, we will do what is needed to keep prices low and the lights on.

“That is my focus. We will work with the NSW government and the private sector to ensure more dispatchable capacity is available to replace Eraring when it closes.”


Techie comes ‘clean’, blackouts will generate billions

Terry McCrann comments on AGL takeover bid by Mike Cannon-Brookes

Thank you Mike for so promptly demonstrating the truth of what I wrote about Origin’s proposed closure of a real power station, Eraring.

That it would have a cascading impact on all the other real – coal-fired – power stations; forcing their accelerated closures, because the totally destructive and destabilising impact of ever-increasing so-called renewables in the grid rendered the real stations unable to function.

You and your Canadian partners are really only proposing upfront to do what AGL would have ended up being forced to do anyway: bring forward the planned closure dates.

This would be both exactly the same as, and also accelerated by, what Origin is doing with Eraring - bringing it forward from ‘over the horizon’ in 2032 to an all-too immediate 2025.

Even a Green loon like NSW’s laughingly titled ‘Energy’ Minister, Matt Kean, can see that 2025 is all-too close to now for comfort; heck, it’s even possible that he could still be in the job when the blackouts and brownouts start.Thank you Mike for also announcing that – at least, you think - there are big dollars to be made in Australia’s blackout and brownout future, off the back of real pain for 26m Australians. You and Brookfield are not putting - or more accurately, being prepared to put - $8bn on the table, to play Father Christmas to Aussie consumers.

You want to and intend to take more dollars out of their pockets for the same amount of electricity they’d be getting – when of course the wind is blowing and the batteries haven’t run flat, and they can actually get it – not fewer dollars.

The bid by got-lucky-techie Cannon-Brookes and Brook-field (no relation, other than intelligence-challenged wokeness) is best judged on two levels.

On both levels it’s a joke.

The first is as just another opportunistic corporate play: launching at AGL when it’s vulnerable with its de-merger proposal. AGL needs 75 per cent shareholder approval to break itself into two packages – the ongoing, heading for the business cemetery, coal-fired stations, and the ‘new-age’ energy player plus retailer.

Brookes, Cannon and Field, want the same 75 per cent to vote for their $7.50 cash a share upfront and not have to worry about what the package going forward will be worth.

The simple counter is that they think that package going forward can be made to be worth more, much more, than $7.50. Current holders should say thanks but no thanks, as indeed the AGL board has promptly done. We’ll keep the extra dollars from Australia’s blackouts and brownouts future, if you don’t mind.

In the context of both corporate realities and the seemingly unstoppable sleep-walk to Australia’s energy future disaster, the demerger makes sense.

The two most recent examples have been value-accretive for holders. That was Wesfarmers hiving off the Coles supermarket business, and Woolworths separating its Endeavour grog and pokies business. And it should be also with BHP selling its oil and gas business to Woodside, with BHP holders retaining their equity pro-rata in the merged entity.

On the second level, AGL and Australia’s energy future, the bid is an even bigger – and thoroughly sick – joke. The bidding duo’s core proposal is to replace 7GW (7000MW) of existing AGL real 24/7 coal and gas generation, with “a build-out of at least 8 GW of clean energy and storage (batteries)”. Let’s say, for example, that’s 6GW of wind/solar and 2GW of batteries.

When the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine – for at least 8 hours every night and often 24 hours through a full day – that 6GW could and will drop close to zero; the 2GW of batteries will run flat in a couple of hours. Hullo blackouts; hullo brownouts. And very expensive power, as in even crazier Europe.


Catastrophic drop in apprentices could send house costs soaring

There’s been new and alarming twist in the Australia-wide shortage of labour. The number of young people wanting to take up apprenticeships in trades like electrical, plumbing, carpentry, concrete laying and similar areas has slumped dramatically.

In many other areas the hope is that when we lift migration rates the shortages will be greatly reduced. But, without rule changes, building-skills migration is complex and not likely to substantially reduce the impact of reduced apprenticeships in the short to medium term.

The shortage of apprentices is catastrophic because it is going to increase the price of constructing a new house (not the land cost) by between 20 and 30 per cent. Such a huge rise in the construction costs will press state and local governments to reduce their bureaucracies and taxes.

My friends in the industry say the shortages are nationwide but particularly severe on the east coast. Large apprenticeship recruiters get almost no worthwhile responses from advertisements. The recruiting agencies still contribute, but the overall intake in many areas looks to be down 40 to 50 per cent.

There is already a shortage of skilled labour in the building industry and that will increase over time because of the age levels of the workforce. Apprentices normally contribute substantially in their third and fourth year, so the shortage of skills will be extended along with building delays.

What makes this so dangerous for costs is that there are two levels of payment in the building industry. The first is the large, unionised projects that extend into multistorey apartments. Renumeration and labour costs in that part of the industry are usually more than twice that of the second part, the housing sector.

This difference has been maintained because a lot of building people don’t like working in a unionised environment. But the shortage of skills and apprentices is impacting both sectors as well as engineering operations and factories.

Not surprisingly many tradespeople in the lower-remunerated areas are now looking for better paid work. The long-term skills shortages will make the remuneration differences unsustainable. So renumeration in the housing and other sectors will rise in the next two or three years.

Just how much this will add to the total price of a new house depends on the extent of the remuneration increase, the land content and the way the house is designed and constructed. There will be wide variations, but it is not unreasonable to assume that a theoretical doubling of the trade renumeration in the area will add 20 or 30 per cent to the construction cost of houses.

There are a large variety of opinions as to why young people are turning away from apprenticeships when it is clear that once they are done they are going to be rewarded with very large pay rates.

If the shortages continue remuneration will exceed $100 an hour, often by a big margin. Here are some of the reasons being widely canvased. It is not an exhaustive list, and there is room for legitimate disagreement:

* A regular source of the apprenticeships has been TAFE and similar courses that have provided young people aged around 15 and 16 with a pre-apprenticeship course. Covid substantially reduced the ability of these colleges to operate in many states.

* Although there is a very large carrot at the end of an apprenticeship, first and second year apprentices’ wages are very low and can be under $10 an hour. Many young people can get twice that in hospitality and retail areas. There is a great deal of well-paid unskilled work on the large construction sites. Young people are taking the cash rather than the future prize. That short-term view may also be linked to concerns about climate etc.

* Although most of today’s building and industrial sites are very different to say five or 10 years ago, they can still be a bit “rough”, with frequent use of swear words. Young people coming out of a modern school environment are not well prepared for this way of working.

* Many of the trades involve so-called “dirty work” or the discipline of a factory. Many young people don’t want to work in such environments.

* The Covid handouts have created among young people a sense of entitlement which has damaged the work ethic of the community. This widely held view is certainly not universal among young people. I am seeing in many areas of the community young people very keen to work but they require inspiring management.

* The absence of foreign students means that if a young person wants to go to a university it is much easier to gain enrolment. University enrolment or trade skills will become an increasing debate among young people, as the rewards in trades are set to exceed those in many professions.

While we can all debate the reasons for this slump in apprenticeships, it is a signal for serious problems ahead.

First-home buyers are already finding it difficult to fund the high cost of housing and another substantial rise in costs will multiply this problem. It will also force state and local governments to look at their practices, because they contribute about half the cost of the house – partly due to stamp duty and GST, but also because their bureaucracies and organisations are designed to delay good developments and boost costs.

In theory we could train the bureaucrats to be apprentices but under the adult apprenticeship rules anyone aged over 21 has to be paid a full adult wage. Inexperienced apprentices are very costly in their first two years because a lot of time needs to be put into training them. As a result, adult apprentices are a relatively small part of the skills workforce. Maybe that needs to change.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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