Tuesday, November 08, 2022

'Dirty' diesel generators may be needed during Perth summer as WA energy crisis deepens

The body that runs Western Australia's biggest power system may have to spend tens of millions of dollars hiring diesel-fired backup generators as part of desperate efforts to keep the lights on this summer.

Amid widespread disruptions to WA's power supplies, the Australian Energy Market Operator called for bids in September from energy companies and users to provide an extra 174MW of capacity for four months from December 1.

However, it is understood the system operator received a subdued response from the market when the tender period for additional capacity closed last month.

AEMO is now believed to be considering the use of dirty diesel-fired generators that can provide backup power in the event the grid comes under stress over the coming period.

Another sizzling summer on the cards

The moves come amid forecasts of a potentially scorching summer in WA, where the south west interconnected system supplies electricity to more than one million customers from Kalbarri in the north, Kalgoorlie in the east and Albany in the south.

In calling for extra capacity, AEMO in September noted the system was dealing with a "shortfall" of reserves caused by a number of different reasons.

Among them was the early retirement of a power station in Kwinana, south of Perth, an unexpected outage of another gas-fired plant north of the city and an increase in forecasts for peak demand.

On top of this, AEMO and the state Labor government have also been hit by the fallout from a worsening crisis in WA's coal basin, which has long formed the backbone of the electricity industry.

Two months ago, the Indian-owned Griffin Coal mine near Collie, 180km south of Perth, fell into receivership following years of operating problems and mounting losses and debt.

Coal supplies hit by double whammy

At the same time, Griffin's rival Premier Coal was plagued with problems of its own including declining ore reserves and a safety incident that interrupted operations.

Combined, the difficulties at the state's two coal producers have forced major customers including listed miner South32, as well as state-owned power provider Synergy, to look at importing coal from interstate and abroad despite sky-high prices.

They also prompted the state government to take the extraordinary decision of mothballing from September until January 1 the 340MW Collie coal-fired power station to preserve fuel supplies.

As part of its tender, AEMO said it was seeking companies that could either supply extra generating capacity or reduce their demand at times of strain on the grid.

The system operator said it wanted the services to be available from December 1 until the start of April between the evening peak between 5pm and 9pm.

This follows a series of rolling 'brownouts' that affected Perth during an intense heatwave last summer, when constraints in the poles and wires network meant supply was unable to keep up with demand.

AEMO would not be drawn on the level of interest in the reserve tender or whether extra diesel generators would be required as a backup this summer.

Instead, the agency noted it was "still assessing submissions" and would provide further information at the end of the month.


How I kept my inner rage against our Dear Leader

Paul Maguire compares Victoria to North Korea and the old Communist East Germany

In the early months of the Covid pandemic panic in 2020, I read Anna Funder’s excellent book Stasiland. The central theme of the book is the attempt to understand how a large proportion of the German citizenry of the German Democratic Republic were willingly co-opted into the socialist dystopia brutally enforced by the likes of Erich Mielke, founder, and head of the East German Stasi.

It seemed incomprehensible that entire sections of civilised society could willingly surrender independence, dignity, and self-respect for so long particularly after the horrors and indignities of Nazism and the humiliations of the second world war. That is until one finds themselves trapped in a society gripped by fear and panic. This is where I found myself in late July 2020 when Victorians were confined to home under threat of arrest and financial penalty for any act of disobedience. The legal authority for this extraordinary action was an administrative Direction issued by the Chief Health Officer pursuant to the previously innocuous Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic).

The audacity and arrogance of the 200+ odd days of lockdown imposed on Victorian citizens without warning by the Victorian state government, seemingly with the accord of the government of the Commonwealth of Australia was truly astounding. Without wishing to stretch the analogy of East German communism too far, the experience taught me how fragile and easily basic human rights can be taken away without objection if enough fear can be engendered, and in Victoria’s case, perpetuated with daily sermons of the horror of the unseen but purportedly insidious ‘wicked’ enemy of the people.

During this period, I learned a lot about my own resilience, family, neighbours, and in particular, the dangerous nature of unchecked state authority on a fragile democracy. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, the dark signs of this ‘new authoritarianism’ were already evident for anyone willing to open their eyes within the state of Victoria. As much has been written about the continuing failures of Premier Andrews, I do not intend to repeat them. I would, however, offer several personal observations from the inside, so to speak, to illuminate my contention that the failed attempt at elimination of the virus has on any objective measure, not been a good experience, as lives were not saved, nor the public health protected. On the contrary, the draconian measures exposed the dark side of human nature and the ease by which the citizenry will embrace the new authoritarianism.

Having followed closely the decisions of the Victorian and NSW Supreme Courts and the High Court of Australia, I learned that long-standing Constitutional rights of freedom of movement and in particular, the Victorian Charter of Human Rights is not worth the paper it is written on. Worse, human rights advocates, academics, and officials are not interested in universal human rights. They are cultural relativists who gladly welcome the control of the state over individual freedom and liberty.

A bit harsh? Well, not one of the usual suspects such as Liberty Victoria, the Victorian Human Rights Commission, the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Law Institute or Bar Council officers spoke out against or challenged in the public square, let alone the courts, the power of the myriad administrative ‘Directions’ issued by the Victorian Chief and Deputy public health officers. Challenging administrative decisions and orders are the bread and butter of the law lists of the AAT and the Federal Court are clogged with applications and appeals against decisions of the Refugee Tribunal every day of the year. A scan of the law lists for the Victorian AAT and Supreme Court of Victoria for the period of lockdown revealed less than a handful of matters listed challenging the human rights breaches none of which were initiated or supported by the entities listed above.

The second lesson is Victorian police are a partisan arm of the executive government enforcing its will rather than independently upholding the law.

The arrest of the young Ballarat mother Zoe Buhler, endorsed by Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius, in her home for the alleged unlawful act of incitement is one of the most egregious acts of police intimidation in this state’s history. The last time I looked at s 321G of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), which admittedly is not too often, Mrs Buhler, would only be found guilty if she intended an offence to be committed by another person. Five minutes into the video of this appalling intimidation it was clear Mrs Buhler had no such intention. At that point, the two hulking police officers should have apologised and immediately left the premises. However, as Assistant Commissioner Cornelius lectured us, echoing the words of his political masters:

‘We remain very concerned, and in fact, outraged is probably a fair word, to say there is still people in our community who think it’s a good idea at the time of this deadly pandemic that we’re all fighting, think it’s a good time to leave home and protest in our streets.’

Excuse me? We were not fighting anything. The risk of the infectious respiratory virus that may result in serious ill-health and potentially death of certain cohorts of our community is a health issue, and if treated sensibly, may be reduced with various preventative measures and if infected, through medical intervention. It is not for the police to assert with seeming impunity, that Mrs Buhler and a group of citizens of Ballarat meeting together in the open air, are inciting mass murder. My cynicism is justified, as the police typically withdrew the charge of incitement on the day of the scheduled hearing at the Ballarat Magistrates Court, presumably to avoid the ignominy of having to justify their heavy-handed conduct and worse, reveal which of the Police Command directed them to take the action.

The image of riot squad police marching down the aisles of Victoria Market in full protective gear with batons and shields in late 2020 was nothing short of bizarre. What did they think the good citizens of Melbourne were going to do? Attack police with a zucchini or a sack of brush potatoes? When CFMEU construction workers took to the streets of Melbourne protesting the closure of building sites the police were swiftly deployed to crush the dissent. Don’t start me on the attacks at Shrine of Remembrance and the cavalry charge at St Kilda beach and surrounds as people dared to gather in the open air to discuss their grievances. No bended knees to that mob. The so-called force for good is ripe for another Royal Commission and clean out of senior ranks if confidence in the police is to be restored.

Now that Chairman (excuse me) Premier Dan Andrews has announced the pandemic is over (no public health evidence provided) effective from midnight on 12 October 2022, we are all expected to simply forget and move on. Unfortunately, the majority of Victorians, and certainly the political class, are content to follow the lead. Perfectly submissive fools, vassalages accepting the protection of the all-powerful state.

Me? The experience was shocking particularly in the manner of its swift and brutal implementation. I am not content to simply move on. However, the overwhelming lesson I learnt from this experience is the new authoritarians are brilliant at controlling us, crushing human rights, infantilising us, stopping us from going about our daily lives. They are just no good at doing the job actually entrusted to them … protecting the public health. A bit like the Stasi in the final days of the German Democratic Republic.


Not so independent

Liberals are slamming the Americanisation of Australian politics after staggering figures revealed self-proclaimed independent candidates received almost $6m in combined funding from a single organisation.

The AEC’s transparency data has finally put a price tag on the “Teal” independents’ war on key former Liberal seats in NSW and Victoria — with each of the six women elected to parliament getting more than $700,000 each from environmental activists Climate 200.

The group raised more than $8m for the federal election and splashed almost $6m to bring the candidates into parliament — each with a push for more climate conscious policies.

But Simon Holmes a Court, the man who is among the leaders of the “community independents movement” — and personally forked out hundreds thousands of dollars to install the candidates to Canberra — claims they are not influenced by Climate 200’s generous donations.

“The independents are loosely part of the community independents movement, which began in 2012 … they are certainly not a party. But I don’t/can’t speak for them,” he said.

Mr Holmes à Court, the son of Australia’s first billionaire Robert Holmes à Court, said Climate 200’s donations from 11,200 donors were designed to level the playing field.

Along with Mr Holmes à Court, billionaire businessmen Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes were among the biggest donors to Climate 200 with the Atlassian founders donating $1.5m and $1.115m respectively.

Former Liberal MP David Sharma, who lost his seat of Wentworth to Teal Allegra Spender, slammed the identical funding of the independent candidates and called for an urgent intervention through expenditure and donation caps before his NSW colleagues suffer the same fate at next year’s state election.

“I don’t think Wentworth had seen anything like that sort of spend in its history – it would be the same for Kooyong and Mackellar. It’s American style spending, and we don’t want that in Australia,” he said.

“If people on the left are concerned about Clive Palmer’s spending, you’d have to be concerned about this as well. Each of these candidates is getting 40 to 50 per cent (in) total funding from a single organisation, that looks like a political party to me.”

Jason Falinski, who lost Mackellar on Sydney’s affluent northern beaches to Sophie Scamps, added: “These people are increasingly looking like privileged shills for some of the most powerful vested interests in Australia.”

Liberal Senator James McGrath — who is on the Electoral Matters Committee — said the donations revealed a case of “rich people buying elections and freezing out mums and dads.”

“The teals in Climate 200 are bringing US style politics to Australia. A million dollars to them is loose change, for everyone else it’s a lotto win,” he said.

“You can’t expect to spend a million on a seat and not have a result. The teals love talking about two things, talking about transparency and taking big money donations. The teals are a political party, they’re lying to Australians when they say they’re not.”

But NSW Teal MPs Ms Spender, Dr Scamps and Kylea Tink doubled-down on their independent status.

Ms Spender said her voting record was proof of her independence. “I’ve voted with all sides on a range of issues, my votes are based on the values and interests of my electorate. I stood on an agenda of climate action, integrity, gender equity and decency – an agenda that voters of Wentworth supported,” she said.

“My campaign had the backing of 1500 local volunteers and over 600 local donors ... Climate 200 supports my values too, and so they chose to support me.”

Dr Scamps told the Telegraph she has never discussed policy with anyone at Climate 200 and “never will”.

“I understand this is a quantum shift in Australian politics as some people are used to the major parties doing the bidding of their donors, but the money raised from the 826 community donors and the 11,200 Climate 200 donors helped to level the playing field in Mackellar against a party political machine that had stacked the electoral system in their favour,” she said.

Ms Tink said she always expected Climate 200 funding would account for 35 to 40 per cent of her total campaign revenue.


Energy Minister insists Queensland’s grid is sufficient

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni has declared the state has sufficient power supply and won’t be plunged into rolling blackouts this summer, despite a critical failure at a major coal-fired power station in Central Queensland.

The Callide Power Station was removed from the energy grid last week and remains offline after equipment failures ground the generators to a halt.

Mr de Brenni said one of the station’s four generators was expected to be back up and running on Wednesday and the remaining generators would progressively return to operation but insisted the state’s power supply was sufficient.

When quizzed by reporters about how the grid would cope if the ageing infrastructure at Callide failed during a period of sustained heat and stress on the electricity supply, he again insisted Queenslanders would not face blackouts.

“The advice that I get from the Australian Energy Market Operator is that the system in Queensland is healthy and stable and manageable,” Mr de Brenni told reporters on Monday afternoon.

“So we’re very confident that we’ll continue to be able to put downward pressure on prices and there will be adequate supply for both households and, of course, businesses.”

Annastacia Palaszczuk faced criticism after describing the station’s failings as “routine” but the Premier stood by the comments, saying the condition of the state’s coal-fired stations were in decline.

“We have an ageing fleet, that is nothing new — we know that,” she said. “That is why we have a plan to transition (to renewable energy).”

Deputy Opposition Leader Jarrod Bleijie repeated LNP’s calls for an independent inquiry into the power station’s failings, demanding to know if the state government was adequately funding the maintenance of the generators.

“Can the government guarantee reliability and safe electricity for Queenslanders when we’ve seen four generators go down at Callide last week?” he said.


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)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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