Now that the techo side is straightened out, this blog is ready to roll. It’s purpose, in addition to this website’s commentary and articles I write elsewhere, is to take a personal look at the Australian electricity scene. My thinking about the issues is aided just now by a series of talks economist Jon Stanford (Deloitte, Insight Economics) and I are giving around the country. There is much interest and much concern among industry managers about where Australia’s energy policy is heading.
A useful piece of reading for anyone interested in the issue is “Post-Partisan Power,” a just-published paper on energy and climate policy from a trio of American think-tanks. (Google the title to find the paper.) It is the product of a year-long debate between the think-tanks and makes a number of points that resonate here, too. “If ever there were time to hit the reset button on energy policy, it is today,” the authors say. True for Australia, too. The authors believe in Roger Pielke Jr’s “iron law of climate policy” — that the public won’t pay much to achieve carbon emission reduction, a very relevant point here, as the media are demonstrating almost daily. They argue that policy should be based around making clean energy cheaper rather than high-emitting energy much more expensive.
It is a paper with much to read and ponder, but one comment will make my friend Jon (and Ziggy Switkowski) smile: “Nuclear power, long reviled by many on the left, is far cleaner and safer than most imagine and holds enormous potential to displace low-cost but high-polluting coal power.” The biggest obstacles nuclear faces (in America, they mean, but the point applies here, too) are public opposition, high construction costs and associated financial risks.
One other perspective is worth a mention here: “While the left wants to cut fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies and the right wants to cut renewable energy subsidies, we propose across-the-board energy subsidy reform, disciplining all incentives for technology deployment and adoption to a new framework that rewards innovation — through real declines in the cost of generating energy — not simply producing more of the same.”
It’s worth a read.