Power companies worry about perceptions as lights go out on aging privatised energy market

Nicholas McCallum

MEDIA RELEASE: Thursday, 31 January 2019

There is no sense in energy companies working to “rebuild trust” when the real problem for Australian consumers is the unnecessarily complex private market that puts company profits above all else.

With temperatures soaring above 40C, Sydney’s eastern suburbs are losing power and homes across NSW are on notice this week because aging coal-fired generators are not up to the task – just as 200,000 homes in Victoria were plunged into blackout last week when the cost of energy per megawatt-hour peaked at $14,500.

These are the result of failed privatised market that puts profits above investing in new renewable energy generation and infrastructure – and the inept Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government still unable to produce an energy policy after six years.

Electrical Trades Union of Australia National Secretary Allen Hicks said the energy industry charter was nothing but a “fig leaf” that would allow the same for-profit practices to continue while real problems went unaddressed.

“These energy companies don’t get it. The problem is not one of perception, it’s one of putting private profit over the public’s need,” he said.

“The privatised energy market is failing the Australian people as prices continue to rise and reliability of coal-fired generators decreases, but all these companies are offering is a fig leaf to ensure bad practices and high prices continue.”

Mr Hicks said that energy companies believing they can get away with mere window dressing was a testament to the Morrison Government’s policy failings and the ineffectual Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

“Angus Taylor dropped his ‘big stick’ and ran last year. But instead of spending past weeks coming up with an adequate plan for Australia’s energy woes, he’s parroting that under-writing more coal-fired power with taxpayer funds is the best idea,” the ETU National Secretary said.

“But it’s a different rule when it comes to sensible renewable energy projects like Snowy Hydro 2.0, where he said the government has ‘got to do what’s right by the taxpayers’.

“He should follow his own advice rule out using taxpayer funds to underwrite 19th Century technology that’s favoured by some wealthy LNP donors, but the electricity market is otherwise moving away from.”

The ETU National Secretary said despite the best efforts of energy companies to prepare their generators for the summer, they are still failing and well on the road to being decommissioned.  

“Over the coming decades more than 16,000MW of coal-fired power will be removed from the market, replaced by wind, solar, pumped-hydro and battery storage,” Mr Hicks said.

“We don’t need taxpayers paying for old technology. We need firm policies in place now to help the skilled energy sector workers with the Just Transition away from coal to renewable energy.

“And we need energy companies to get behind the Just Transition, not worrying about perceptions when they are making massive profits.”

Media enquiries: ETU National Communications Coordinator – Nicholas McCallum

0419 499 886, [email protected]

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