Friday, September 14, 2012

Punish those evil greenies using solar power!

Here’s an interesting statistic which might inform what follows: Queensland has 200,000 solar PV installs in a state with 1.5 million homes – about 13%. In the 2010 federal election, the Greens received 12.7% of Queensland’s Senate vote…

The Queensland Government is quickly going from gimlet-eyed to wild-eyed, an imitation of cartoon villains lurking in dark basements and giving the kind of laughs you used to have to hire Vincent Price to get.

In fact, Jafar, or even Zigzag (Aladdin and The Princess and the Cobbler, respectively, both voiced by the late Vincent) seem to offer up models of the kind of plotting and scheming, the “drop a surprise on them”, that Cambell Newman is indulging in.

The latest relates to solar power, which I discovered at Climate Spectator and wrote up for The Register here.

The short version: there’s a proposal for the government to change the way the energy market operates. Queensland home-owners who have installed solar power would, under the proposal, be required to sell their power to the government at a regulated low rate, and be required to buy from the government at a regulated higher rate.

What they would not be allowed to do is treat the output of the panels on their roof as their own.

It’s unbelievably coercive. If I were a Queenslander (which I’m not), a solar power user (which I am), and connected to the grid (not) … well, I’d be considering unplugging from the grid entirely, buying a bunch of batteries, and seeing if I could get through the nights without an interface to such a kooky government.

The discussion document is here, but it’s pretty much too late for any submissions, since comments close Monday (it was in a locked cupboard in a basement, sign saying “beware of the leopard”, you know the drill).

You know: turning off lights if you’re not in the room. Getting energy-efficient products. Sleeping on a mattress instead of an electrically-heated water-bed. Stuff like that.

And why does this arise?

Remember that this isn’t just any conservative government: it’s setting a standard for foam-flecked rabid-mouthed ranting that Rush Limbaugh would have to admire.

Yet there is a genuine, rational economics alternative to coercion: structure tariffs so that they accurately reflect costs. Make the price of access to the network accurately reflect the cost, instead of cross-subsidising network access out of the usage fees.

That, however, would mean abandoning the ideological crusade: solar equals greenies and greenies are godless and evil.

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