Archive for April, 2016

Handle with care

It’s not hard to snipe at Labor’s climate plan for the federal election.

In an editorial this morning, the “Australian Financial Review,” for example, condemns it as another example of “the undiminished urge to parade inflated idealism” that keeps crashing upon the reality that the costs of reducing carbon emissions are relatively high for a fossil-fuelled economy such as Australia’s, leaving us with “a sorry mess of contradictory schemes and second-best solutions.”

Labor, the paper says, continues its “tradition of misplaced greenhouse heroism.”

Naturally, the Coalition has been prompt to label Labor’s plan “a carbon tax on steroids” and Treasurer Scott Morrison says “What did they not get about the last election when the country said no to a carbon tax — now they want to bring it back, rebirth it in some other form?”

And, needless to say, the Greens and some of their leading fellow travellers are already out and about saying that Labor’s plan is nowhere strong enough.

The National Farmers Federation, incensed by Labor’s commitment to introduce a “climate trigger” in federal legislation to allow intervention at State level — and specifically to oversee land clearing, is expressing serious concern about this move’s implications for agriculture. The NFF declares the ALP has a history of “doing political deals with extreme green groups.”

But it’s also striking that some key business stakeholder bodies are being careful not to be overly negative in their reactions — although it surprises me that they don’t seem to have woken up to the wider implications of the “climate trigger” ploy.

The incumbent generators and energy retailers, via the Australian Energy Council, have taken the opportunity to point out that the Labor statement “reveals the real challenges ahead for decarbonizing the economy,” welcoming its support for a market-based approach to abatement while underscoring the issue of cost.

The Business Council sees a possible opening for bipartisanship focused on shifting the mix of power production towards low or zero emission technologies while encouraging greater energy efficiency, better managed land use and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

It does also slap at Labor for “taking a gamble” on a 45 per cent emissions reduction target in 2030 without full understanding of the cost.

The Minerals Council welcomes Labor embracing the use of international permits in an emissions trading scheme (this will not be allowed for power generation, I add), less focus on revenue-raising and commitment to consultation in further policy design – but it warns that what is being proposed this week “inevitably poses the risk of significant electricity price rises” with consequences for the economy and especially the export sector.

The MCA points to research by Warwick McKibbin, who found that a 43 per cent abatement target (his modeling level) for 2030 would have close to double the economic impact of the Coalition’s existing 26 per cent goal.

The Australian Industry Group chooses to focus on the degree of difficulty involved in lifting the national abatement target from 26 to 45 per cent, saying the difference represents pulling out the equivalent of a whole year’s emissions and more than doubling the economic impact of a carbon price. At the same time AiG welcomes the prospect of access to purchase of international permits.

The Energy Networks Association welcomes a focus on vehicle emissions standards and emissions trading for the power generation sector so long as the final product “doesn’t change at every election.” And ENA again argues that an enduring policy would be one that is neutral for generation technology.

The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association “looks forward to a continuing dialogue with Labor” and urges it to recognize that our $200 billion LNG industry must not be undermined in “delivering cleaner-burning energy to the world and jobs, economic growth and taxation revenues at home.”

One of the notable things about reactions from green-leaning quarters, both on this occasion and in the general debate, is faith that “clean energy” will get cheaper quickly – but this sidesteps the costs of policy mechanisms to force change as well the overall infrastructure expenditure needed along with all the associated costs (acquiring land, for example) of a huge transition in a short time.

Such assertions keep bringing us back to the fact that we lack credible analysis of what it will take to deliver low-carbon and reliable power supply at the lowest possible system cost.

For my own part, looking at the Labor announcement, I can see some directional positives but also reinforcement of the unwillingness of the Labor leopard to change its populist, interventionist spots.

Yes, a long-term price on carbon emissions is the right way to go (and we would have this policy today if Rudd and Gillard had not badly botched their work after Howard had left the way open for Labor in the 2007 election) but the ALP cannot resist also seeking to pick winners and resorting to “command and control” tactics via a quota (50 per cent renewables), mandatory energy efficiency standards and that “climate trigger.”

(In passing, environment spokesman Mark Butler’s soundbite for the ABC – “We want to get back to the renewable energy superpower we were in 2013” – is as shallow as it gets.)

And, of course, the Labor package comes with another inquiry – this time an “electricity industry modernization review.”

To quote from Casablanca, round up the usual suspects.

As background to all this, you can find an interesting commentary on changing the electricity supply mix attached to the BCA submission to the South Australian nuclear royal commission.

Produced for the council by Bain & Co, it raises the issue of nuclear power as “an insurance policy” if grid-scale solar with large battery storage turns out not to be a viable option and if high domestic prices for gas baulk the fuel’s use as a bridge to a new supply future.

Bain does argue that grid-scale solar PV can reach parity with coal as the cheapest Australian power option by 2030. On this basis, Australia, the consultants assert, can lead the world in embracing solar power.

This is an impressive ambition, but it brings us round again to the issue of total system cost and the capacity of business users (who are three-quarters of demand) to wear the inevitably higher bills as rivals in Asia seek to poach their trading share while building new fossil fuel generation hand over fist.

(In this regard, it pays to point out that the most detailed examination publicly available of a path towards desired global abatement, the paper produced by the International Energy Agency ahead of the Paris summit, postulates world electricity production in 2040 of 4,107 terawatt hours from coal plant, 5,465 TWh from gas, 6,836 TWh from hydro systems, 6,243 TWh from nuclear reactors — along with 5,101 TWh from wind turbines and 3,619 TWh from solar systems. Hardly the intermittent power revolution although it involves many hundreds of billions of dollars in capital outlays on these technologies.)

Reading the Labor plan rhetoric, it seems obvious that climate change moral posturing is back in federal politics and is again operating at a remove from the impact on consumers and especially on the economy as a whole.

As a counter-point, note the recent hysteria over the Whyalla steel plant and the perceived need to keep it going in the face of toughening global competition.

This drew an accusation from the MCA that the Greens, in the forefront of handwringing about the fate of affected workers, are guilty of hypocrisy because of the critical role of coal in steelmaking (every tonne requires 800 kilograms of coking coal).

Let’s also note that the need to handle the integration of carbon and energy policies with care is acknowledged by the CoAG Energy Council, which includes Labor governments, but this does not stop the party from pursuing (as in the latest pitch to voters) a populist line on renewables.

The cynicism of it all is well demonstrated by Victorian Labor (governing on Bill Shorten’s home turf) making a budget decision this month to grab an extra half billion dollars over four years from the brown coal generators through higher mineral royalties – while trying to scare off the power station owners from passing on the costs to consumers.

Jennifer Hewett, writing in in the “Australian Financial Review,” describes the new federal Labor policy as “an attempt to leverage the populist appeal of a bigger boost to renewable energy without being attached to nasty political negatives.”

This seems fair comment to me – and it raises the question of the extent to which Labor can get away with its pose because the carbon/energy debate, as presented in the mass media, remains largely incoherent while the Coalition under Malcolm Turnbull still lacks a clear message on this issue?


Cutting through the fog

Easily the most important statement about Australian energy in April has been the consumer watchdog’s much-anticipated report on east coast gas.

After a fortnight’s gestation by governments, the review by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has been released and neither its contents nor the stakeholder reactions are all that much of a surprise – but the fact that the findings are now public should place a considerable onus on policymakers to get their act together.

This has been recognized by the federal Resources & Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg, whose reaction is that the CoAG Energy Council (which he chairs) must work to ensure all jurisdictions co-operate to address supply-side constraints or risk less reliable supply and higher bills for mass market and industry consumers.

The next council meeting is in July – and by then the Victorian government, which is especially in the gun after the report, is expected to have announced a new onshore gas development policy.

Contrary to what mainstream media have been reporting, the ACCC has not called for “bans on coal seam gas projects to be scrapped,” to quote the Fairfax mass market papers.

What the commission says is that (a) it recognizes there are important environmental and social considerations at play in onshore gas exploration and development, (b) blanket bans on such activity are not in the consumers’ interests and (c) governments need to evaluate proposals individually.

The ACCC calls for such project evaluations to take in to account both socio-environmental issues and the costs and benefits for the east coast market (especially, it says, industrial users).

The supply outlook on the east coast, it observes, “remains uncertain” to 2025 and beyond.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the big picture for consumers has been rather lost to view in the media coverage of the report.

In a nutshell it is this:

• There is little prospect of significant increase in production from existing basins in southern Australia, with these traditional sources of supply facing increasing costs and “challenging conditions.”

• In the absence of new investment in these areas, “there is potential for significant reduction in supply” in the Cooper, Otway and Gippsland basins.

• This throws the Northern Territory prospects in to a sharp light because it holds “potentially very large shale gas resources” that could be a major source of east coast supply – provided politicians don’t prevent their development.

To state the blindingly obvious, this situation makes it more important, too, for the Victorian and New South Wales governments to come up with a regulatory approach that allows gas development (CSG and conventional gas) within their borders and not to continue to pander to ideologists for base political gain in marginal seats (most of them in metropolitan areas).

There are, of course, other key aspects of the ACCC report – notoriously the ongoing stoush between the watchdog and the pipeline sector – but the main game is ensuring adequate east coast supply, something the ideologists oppose because they want 100 per cent renewable energy pursued regardless of such issues as consumer costs and economic impacts.

It is worth recording that the Australian Industry Group has included two energy-related issues in its list of 11 key factors during this (federal) election year: markets must deliver reliable supplies of competitively-priced energy and climate policy must be directed to achieving least-cost outcomes.

Reacting to the ACCC report, AiG praises the commission for “cutting through the fog,” summing up the findings as showing “significant risks to supply” with the “competitive dynamics south of Queensland deteriorating considerably.”

It’s reassuring, AiG adds, to be told there are identified gas reserves big enough to meet projected demand “but these reserves have to be brought to market in full and on time.”

The ACCC, the lobby group says, has “clearly listened” to user concerns; now governments should do likewise and pursue the agenda laid out for them.

As for the suppliers, the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association says the report “highlights that the greatest risk to the market is regulatory failure” and warns politicians that they are heading towards creating “an artificial shortage of gas and higher prices.”

For APPEA, the immediate target is Victoria – where, it points out, 40 per cent of gas consumed by industry is feedstock and 77 per cent of households use gas – but it challenges the CoAG Energy Council as a whole to tackle regulatory reform as “an urgent priority,” under the circumstances perhaps an understandable tautology.

The Australian Energy Council, which has the retailers in its tent, observes that the ACCC report confirms what the suppliers have long known: that moratoriums and over-regulation of unconventional gas fields are exacerbating uncertainty and increasing prices.

“What should be an economic success story,” it says, “is being compromised by political decisions that do not reflect the benefits of new gas developments.”

The Energy Networks Association draws attention to the ACCC’s calculation that a $2 per gigajoule rise in wholesale gas prices translates in to a five per cent higher household bill in NSW and 11 per cent in Victoria.

It wants governments to act quickly to ensure that the benefits of projected lower gas network charges in the rest of this decade are not undermined by higher wholesale costs.

In an environment where so much of the media debate is devoted to cost issues and the threat to jobs in various sectors, it is striking, I think, that so little reporting of the ACCC review has focused on this aspect.

Equally striking is (or should be) the fact that the green ideologists and activists think the ACCC has “missed the point,” is “confused” and has failed to understand that the gas industry is “freeloading on the community.”

They have missed, it seems, or chosen to ignore, the commission’s acknowledgement that “there are serious concerns in the community regarding the potential environmental effects of unconventional gas exploration” allied to its advice to politicians that the answer is not moratoriums but recourse to regulatory regimes that allow “management of risks of development on a case-by-case basis.”

Interestingly, in a communiqué to mark receipt of the report, the Energy Council has chosen to remark that the ACCC “rightly” notes even the best-designed market will falter without gas to trade – unless, of course, your aim is to force consumers away from using gas and hang the economic consequences.

What wasn’t said

Our big gas spenders had their wrists slapped at last week’s LNG18 conference in Perth by management consultants Deloitte, who have drawn up this “not again” list for investors:

• eschew getting swept up in ground-swells of enthusiasm and “get it done at all costs” mentalities;

• avoid under-estimating the industry’s collective impact on local markets;

• don’t use legally driven frameworks as primary methods for assuring access to the resource, and;

• don’t go it alone — in other words, LNG developers here could have shared more infrastructure.

To this you could add a firm message from one of the biggest of the players on stage, Ben van Beurden, global head of Shell (now holding 15 per cent of the world LNG market), who has exhorted his colleagues to “get on the front foot,” to be more assertive in talking about economic and environmental benefits of gas development and to grapple with the industry being taken for granted.

An executive who attended the conference has remarked to me on how many big players want to sing the “gas as a bridge to renewables” song – and still more notable that the Chevron boss, John Watson, urged his fellow executives to step away from a “tell them what they want to hear approach” in reaction to the polarized global climate debate.

He called on the gas industry to make delivering affordable energy to consumers its number 1 focus.

“Don’t make energy more expensive,” was Watson’s message; let consumers make decisions.

For my part, I found a key segment of Prime Minister Turnbull’s welcome address at LNG18 somewhat jarring.

This, verbatim, is the extract: “Gas, which can produce 50 per cent less emissions than a typical coal-fired power plant, has a pivotal role in delivering energy with lower carbon emissions, making it a key contributor to global carbon abatement.

“It is also critical fuel stock for peak energy demand.

“We need to support the transition to renewables by providing peaking power and fill the gap from intermittent renewables when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing.

“It is all part of our broader aim to ensure our energy security into the future.

“Gas is a critical part of the environmental agenda for the future to a cleaner, greener planet.”

Now, for one thing, two of our largest regions, in energy and economic terms, Victoria and New South Wales, the latter governed by the Coalition and Turnbull’s home State, have made a complete box of managing onshore gas development. Ignoring this is hardly helpful even if, as NSW Chief Scientist Mary O’Kane says, the CSG issue is one of Australia’s “wicked” problems.

One could nitpick other aspects of this part of what the PM said, too, but, to me, what he didn’t say is more important.

Turnbull felt no need to emphasize, or even mention, that all Australia’s governments, through the CoAG Energy Council, whose chair was standing in front of him, have committed to integrating energy and climate policy “with a clear focus on ensuring that consumers and industry have access to low cost, reliable energy as Australia moves towards a lower-emissions economy.”

Surely this is the single most important issue for investors across the business sector and a challenge with which every country represented in the LNG 18 conference room is wrestling, but it was ignored by our national leader.

Let’s remember here that electricity generation in the east coast market (home to most supply in Australia), which is by no means the only area for carbon abatement but the one that gets by far the most attention, is:

• carbon emissions intensive

• predominantly comprising ageing centralized generators that have low operating costs with fully amortized capital costs

• not requiring generation sources to bear the costs of their carbon emissions, and

• subject to government interventions directed at lowering carbon emissions, which are not technology neutral nor have been demonstrated to achieve a low carbon system with the lowest overall cost.

That’s a steal from the draft report of the South Australian royal commissioner. As the report also states, our future national electricity supply system must be designed to be low-carbon and reliable at the lowest possible system cost.

Without doubt, gas has a role in this, but I see the Prime Minister’s words playing more to a green (Greens?) political agenda than to the efficient energy strategy his government should be spearheading.

Not taking such a notable opportunity to speak clearly about the big energy picture to the nation and to consumers does not stand to Malcolm Turnbull’s credit in my book.

In particular, his loose language about the “transition to renewables” goes to political game-playing rather than the serious, top level perspective one expects.

As the Energy Networks Association CEO John Bradley rightly pointed out last month, this country’s carbon policy is at a crossroads.

The federal government that will be in office from later this year will have a major responsibility to ensure we meet our share of the Paris commitments efficiently – which is not code for how far and how fast we can drive wind and solar power.

At its core, this task requires a focus on least-cost abatement while minimizing the impact on consumers (three-quarters of who are businesses).

Where in the PM’s comments (above) is there even a hint that his cabinet is across this requirement and that he wants to drive the point home to the community?

Good news,bad news

So, what’s the good news?

It’s a question that can be posed across the spectrum of public life in Australia. We need to remind ourselves regularly that, notwithstanding the media’s principal focus on villains and victims and the pratfall capacity of so many of our politicians, we generally have things better here than most of the rest of the world – and infinitely better than the billion or so people who live in energy poverty.

However, for most people, the top-of-mind news (good or bad) relates to where they live (which is the origin of the American dictum that “all politics is local”).

I wrestle with this in writing about energy while living in Greater Sydney – there are an awful lot of my fellow citizens who don’t do so and, to a large extent, don’t give a flying flea about Sydney issues.

A case in point is Queensland. A fair amount of the nation’s current energy action is taking place north of the Tweed, obviously most prominently with coal and LNG (with implications for the national economy and users of gas domestically) but also, it should not be overlooked, with respect to electricity issues.

I have written here and elsewhere about the work of the new Queensland Productivity Commission in the electricity space and the agency continues to develop final reports on power pricing and solar power policy that have relevance beyond the State’s borders.

It’s easy to play “whack-a-mole” and keep thumping wrong things about electricity supply, policy and regulation that abound around us – but we shouldn’t skip over positive developments.

In Queensland, for example, the Palaszczuk government has done the right thing by finally deciding not to merge its two generation businesses, CS Energy and Stanwell, a step that would have materially lessened wholesale market competition.

It has also done the right thing, after some wavering, in confirming that retail price deregulation will commence on 1 July in the State’s populous south-east, a growth market where consumers and suppliers should be given the maximum elbow room consistent with adequate customer protection.

On the other hand, the government has done the wrong thing by kneejerking for political reasons in response to the QPC draft recommendation that it draw a line under the solar bonus scheme in its present form at the end of this decade rather than allowing it to roll on to 2028 at substantial cost to non-PV customers.

It seems happy to continue to impose an inherent inequity on a majority of its constituents in order to wheedle favor with marginal seat post-materialists.

The State Productivity Commission is now wading through responses to its draft report on electricity pricing – it is required to deliver the final report on the last day of May.

There are more than four dozen submissions up on its website and it’s not possible to do justice to them in a short post here.

There is some advice to the commission that is worth highlighting.

For example, “With a focus on improved outcomes to the customer, deployment of renewable energy should be balanced with providing reliable and cost-effective supply of electricity” (EnergyAustralia).

And “the impact of the solar bonus scheme on network prices should serve as an example of how selective intervention can distort incentives and result in adverse outcomes for customers” (Origin Energy, which also opines that “the common driver of market failure and the loss of economic benefits is a breakdown of the price signal.”)

And “where State or Territory governments pursue independent (climate) policies there is a high probability that mixed objectives and their interaction with national policies will deliver ineffective or inefficient outcomes” (Grattan Institute, which also emphasizes a key point made by other serious commentators: a national, co-ordinated approach – to climate and energy policies – involving all nine governments is essential).

And Grattan again on tariff reform: politicians may decide that mandating cost-reflective tariffs is too hard but, if they do, they will miss the opportunity to deliver cheaper and fairer power prices. Queensland, says the institute, is “is ideally placed” to capitalize on the benefits of cost-reflective tariffs and smart meters.

And “Australia’s world-leading rates of rooftop solar installation are both an opportunity and a threat to fair and more efficient (end-use) prices” – that’s the Energy Networks Association, which expect a further seven million customers nationally to install rooftop solar panels by 2034 and argues that failure to change delivery system tariffs will result in over-investment in distributed energy resources and higher community costs.

And “should market conditions induced by (the proposed 50 per cent renewables policy mooted by Palaszczuk & Co) cause a material level of coal (generation) exit (in the State), especially if this occurs in conjunction with further national emissions reduction policy, the (market) merit order effect will rebound and wholesale prices could rise above historical levels” (Australian Energy Council, pointing to South Australian 2016 futures pricing virtually doubling towards the end of last year and noting that utility-scale wind and rooftop solar generation are not well-placed to offer hedges to large customers seeking to manage their energy costs).

There’s much more than this to be found in the submissions – for example, a joint effort by the State’s Council of Social Services and Chamber of Commerce & Industry on government profiteering via reaping dividends and tax-equivalent payments from the network businesses is worth reading. (This, in turn, needs to be read against a statement by Energy Minister Mark Bailey pointing out that $500 million in annual reaping from networks goes to subsidize power prices for 700,000 rural customers.)

Two over-arching things merit attention.

The (obvious) first is what really matters next is what the commission will make of all this in its final report — and the second is whether anyone in governments outside Queensland is paying attention to the QPC’s work and the thoughts being submitted to it by stakeholders?

As to the latter, I have my doubts that any such efforts are being made in other jurisdictions.

“Not invented here” is the meme and the frustration of key stakeholders about having to traipse across the country repeating themselves is palpable.

This, of course, is where the CoAG Energy Council should come in.

However, notwithstanding recent rhetoric, I remain to be convinced that, in the national political freak show we are enduring, we’re going to see whole-of-government co-operative action designed to deliver a competitive, deregulated and harmonized east coast market able to efficiently meet lower-emission supply ambitions.

That’s the really bothersome piece of bad news.

A greener shade of black

Finding the time to read all the stuff published that is germane to Australia’s electricity and gas supply plus carbon policies, and this includes international material, is a challenge.

I have just got round, for example, to reading the latest New South Wales “State of the Environment” report (240 pages) that was released on 19 March (and can be found on the NSW Environment Protection Agency website).

The Fairfax Media take on this publication at the time was that, despite the State community’s commitment to recycling, 94 per cent of people got their energy from non-renewable sources. Now there’s a surprise………and, of course, this needed to be prominently linked with environmental groups declaring “it is time for NSW to move away from the 20th Century’s fuel sources and get serious about the transition to sustainable forms of energy.”

That is the war cry of the post-materialists, who I recently saw defined (by a Monash University academic) as “social progressives who have views over a range of issues that have nothing to do with the vagaries of the industrial economy” and by a media political commentator as “well-educated, inner city renters, public transport users and politically promiscuous.”

They can only be expected to increase in NSW as the State population rises from 7.6 million to an anticipated 9.2 million in 2031, according to the government, with the majority of growth focused in Greater Sydney.

As readers well know, NSW is the largest regional economy in the country and it uses a quarter of the total energy consumed nationally, so what happens in the State is of countrywide importance.

The story of what’s not happening with gas within NSW borders is too well known to require repeating today, but the overall picture doesn’t often get attention: for example, 90 per cent of State energy needs are met via fossil fuels (coal, gas and petroleum products) with a quarter of demand being via electricity.

The largest user of overall energy is now transport (42.5 per cent), followed by manufacturing industry (38.6 per cent), then households (11.3 per cent) and commercial (7.6 per cent).

Looking at electricity alone, the break-up of shares is 34.6 per cent industrial, 34.3 per cent residential and 24.7 per cent commercial (including public services) – or to put it another way, almost 60 per cent of consumption is by business and public services . Quality, reliability and affordability of supply flows in to the State economy and eventually to jobs.

When last did anyone in NSW, reading or viewing the media, have this point made to him or her?

One of the things the government wants to sell via the new report is that electricity supplied from renewable sources is “growing strongly” in NSW – but the reality (using the EPA paper data) is that, including supply from Snowy Hydro, the zero-emissions contribution was 10.8 per cent in 2014.

The dominant NSW source of power by a long way, although reduced from 2008 when demand peaked, is coal (82.3 per cent) with gas contributing 6.9 per cent.

If you take the Snowy’s contribution out of the State renewables picture, you find that solar photovoltaics provided 3.3 per cent of supply and wind 2.1 per cent with other hydro and biomass roughly one per cent each.

Talk of 50-fold increase in solar since 2008 (as the report does) and a 25-fold rise in wind generation may impress the energy illiterate, and encourage the post-materialists, but is hardly a harbinger of a green revolution just around the corner.

The report’s bottom line (available with a bit of digging) with respect to power is that the 2014 contribution of coal generation was 54,388 GWh versus 975 GWh for wind, 1,456 GWh for solar and 1,030 GWh for bagasse, landfill and other bio-energy. The contribution from gas was 4,600 GWh – or more than all the non-hydro renewables put together.

The State Environment Minister and his department would do something worthwhile, I suggest, if they pointed out how many wind turbines, for example, would be needed to replace just half of NSW coal generation, what this would cost in capital and how much land would be required for the farms – but this clearly is a bridge too far for them.

Capacity factor comes in to this, so a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests part of the answer to my question would be north of 5,000 turbines of 3 MW capacity.

What would this represent in total system costs (the question raised by royal commissioner Scarce in South Australia) and in impacts on the final power bill for industrial, commercial and residential customers in NSW?

If a government with a strong majority in State parliament, virtually no ownership of generation and no need to face the voters again until March 2019 can’t bring itself to ask such questions and get the answers in to the public debate, then who will?

At least so far as electricity is concerned, I am left with a strong view that the Baird government is more focused on greenwashing itself (via this report and in other ways) than addressing the community energy illiteracy problem, which is really quite a disappointment.

In another life, I once seriously annoyed the CEO of a large government-owned generation business (not in NSW) by suggesting (publicly) that he was bent on painting it a greener shade of black. Would it be unfair, with respect to electricity supply, to suggest that this is to a certain extent what the NSW government is trying to do in this report?