It is not often that things uttered by The Greens astound me as I am quite used to them saying the most absurd things, but I have found myself in that position today, although to be fair, their comrades in the Labor Party have helped to produce my state of astoundment (yes, it’s a word, even if spellcheck doesn’t know it).
Yesterday the ACT Government announced that a large sun receptacle will be placed in Royalla, in Canberra’s deep south (I would normally call it the deep dark south, but that wouldn’t bode well for solar power now would it?). It will produce power which The Greens believe is lovely and cheap.
Royalla will produce 20 megawatts of power each day, enough to power about 4400 homes at a price of 18.6c per kilowatt-hour, about three times the cost of energy produced using coal-fired power.
(h/t Noel Towell, The Canberra Times )
“The reverse auction tariff price of 18.6c/kilowatt-hour also reflects just how quickly the price of solar energy is falling, and that the more we invest in renewable energy, the cheaper it becomes.” said Shane Rattenbury, ACT Greens Energy spokesperson.
(via ACT Greens  who do not receive a tip of my hat, period.)
So, if three times the cost of good old reliable coal power is “cheaper”, how many more taxpayer dollars do we have to throw at this stuff before the cost at the retail side is something which won’t break the bank?
Speaking of taxpayer dollars, it looks like this 18.6c/kilowatt-hour price has been reached by throwing a significant taxpayer-funded subsidy at the project. Back to Simon Corbell in The Canberra Times:
Mr Corbell said the cost would be passed onto consumers and be capped at no more than $13 per year to each Canberra household.
So in other words, the more power you use, the more money this taxpayer subsidy will have to throw at the Spanish sun receptacle company so that your power bill doesn’t go up by more than $13 per year…and with the coast of the solar power being triple that of normal power, and with very few people (probably none, actually) having $6.50 annual electricity bills, the cost of this subsidy will blow out quickly. (Just an explanatory note about the math, if a bill is currently $6.50 and it triples, then it becomes $19.50 which is $13.00 more than the original $6.50 bill).
And yes, that’s right, the company building the sun station is Spanish, so I do have to wonder who gets the carbon credits if the ridiculous carbon dioxide tax stays in place?
And then there’s the other bizarre part of this whole thing. This power plant can power 4,400 homes. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2011 census , Canberra has 145,229 homes, so this power plant can only power 3% of Canberra’s homes and yet all of them are going to pay for it whether they receive power from the plant or not. This means that 97% of Canberra’s homes are going to be subsidising the power supply for that 3%. Based on that, to give you a better indication of how much more this solar power will cost, if only that 3% were paying for the solar power and the $13 cap over the 100% was adjusted so as to receive the same revenue from just the 3%, then it would be an annual cap of $433.33 extra per household per year, and even then it would be subsidised by the taxpayer for an unknown amount.
It is truly astounding that the ACT Government is forcing people to pay extra through both their power bills and their taxes for an unnecessary and uncompetitive solar power plant, all in the name of reducing carbon dioxide emissions which they incorrectly believe are warming the planet. It’s ludicrous, but I can see why the Spanish folks are coming all this way…it’s a giant cash cow and it’s not their taxpayers that have to foot the bill.