Costly price to pay for taxes, regulations on energy
This week the Commonwealth Government's Climate Commission visited Melbourne. Headed by master sensationalist Tim Flannery, the commission was formed by Julia Gillard to help sell the merits of taxes and regulations to reduce carbon emissions.
In its report on Victoria, the commission loyalists manage to torture the climate data to support the alarmist view that, unless carbon emissions are curtailed, we will experience more extreme weather and less rainfall. It forecasts a half-metre rise in sea levels, a sober version of Tim Flannery's apocalyptic forecast which envisaged an eight-storey rise in sea levels.
Wind and other forms of renewable energy have seen the carbon tax on fossil fuels improve their competitiveness. Wind is the Climate Commission's favoured energy form.
The carbon tax is not the only leg-up the government gives to renewables. It builds on subsidies through the renewable energy target, which now costs Australian households and businesses around $1.5 billion a year, costs which are set to double by 2020. In addition, the Commonwealth provides $3 billion a year in other taxpayer-financed green power subsidies with the new $10 billion Clean Energy Fund supplying a further trough.
The Climate Commission claims the cost of Chinese-manufactured wind turbines is falling 70 per cent a year (no longer is there any talk of the Bracks Government's Brave New World of Victorian-supplied turbines).
In spite of these vaunted galloping cost improvements, the commission rejects a removal of the subsidies that account for two-thirds of wind generators' revenues, possibly because it realises that forecasts of wind's imminent competitiveness have regularly been made over the past 20 years.
Like a constantly receding mirage, the forecast of affordably produced renewable energy never approaches reality.
Outside of Commonwealth bodies, wind has been losing support of late. This is partly because it is recognisably expensive and partly because people living in rural areas close to wind turbines object to their visible and noise intrusions. The Baillieu Government, like most others, bas responded by adopting tighter controls over new proposals.
One of the few remaining welcome mats for wind power is South Australia. Last year more than $5 billion of capital investment was pumped into the state's wind industry, creating 222 ongoing jobs. The wind subsidies attracting that investment are mainly paid by people in other states.
And the $5 billion has entailed $23 million per job for an electricity supply that is inherently unreliable and costs three times that of conventional supplies! Not much of a bargain.
Even so, the alternative source of renewable energy to wind is solar, which is twice as expensive again. Solar panels have seen an explosive growth over recent years on the back of a Commonwealth subsidy covering most of the installation costs and lavish state government tariffs, the costs of which are hidden in consumers' bills. The Bracks Government set the price of electricity from solar panels at 10 times the market value.
This was reduced by the Baillieu Government and is to be largely eliminated.
Taxes and regulations preventing Australians from having cheap energy have high costs.
They have no benefits and all such measures should be repealed.