Ballooning electricity costs: NT could make a difference


2465 Robertson, Bruce OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
The NT Government could use its onshore petroleum exploration and production licensing powers to deal with the absurdity of Australia being the world’s largest exporter (neck and neck with Qatar), while Aussies are paying some of the world’s highest prices for gas and electricity.
Bruce Robertson (pictured), of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, says the plethora of mistakes made in Australia by the industry and governments are about to be repeated, even encouraged, in the NT.
He gave evidence to the NT fracking inquiry this morning.
Speaking with the Alice Springs News Online he said supply and price imbalances are usually corrected by the market “but we don’t have a gas market. The four big players – Origin, Santos, BHP-Exxon and Shell – control the market.
“We are swimming in gas. Claims of a shortage are so wrong it is ridiculous,” says Mr Robertson.
The consequences are absurd:–
• The Gladstone plant, one the world’s highest cost gas producers, is operating at a loss. (Qatar is one of the cheapest producers.)
• Bass Strait gas can be bought more cheaply in Japan than in Melbourne, next-door to the field.
• “We are blessed with energy resources, wind and sunshine, we are the largest exporter of coal and LNG, yet globally we have some of the highest priced electricity,” he says.
• Losses we make on overseas trading are balanced by gouging Australian consumers, the owners of the resource under our feet.
• It’s not smart for a government to “chase down” a money losing industry – yet that’s what the NT Government is doing.
• The exploitative gas industry is developing into a key factor of the deinstrustrialisation of Australia.
• The rush into gas started with Japan turning away from nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster, but soon there was a global over-production.
• Gas retailers in Australia are now thinking of importing gas for the domestic market rather than tapping our own massive resources.
• Industries are shutting down or avoid investment in Australia.
All this is a long shot from BHP stating stating in 2012 that it could easily supply the entire east coast of Australia with affordable gas indefinitely, says Mr Robertson.
We are seeking comment from Ken Vowles, Minister for Primary Industries and Resources.
UPDATE Aug 1, 11:47am
A spokesperson for Mr Vowles said he would not comment.


  1. Rising electricity costs are being ignored by government. Why? Let’s go back.
    Before solar. In a clear way let’s say it costs $10m a year to run the power station. Then comes solar. More and more business and households get solar. Then over a few years those with solar are paying either nothing or getting a payment from PAWA.
    The facts are the power station still requires $10m to operate.
    So for example those with solar have removed $7m from payments to the power company.
    That requires those without solar to pay the $10m.
    Simple maths based on logic and fact.
    Governments are hiding their heads in the sand as they know what they have done.
    Blaming the power companies and accusing them of price gauging is a lie.
    This is purely the lack of risk management of renewable energy establishment.
    I raised my concerns when solar first was starting up only to be called an idiot by the then CEO of PAWA.
    The NT Government should be paying the difference for their stuff up. So should every government and mostly the Feds.
    There is no mystery about this. It is not a conspiracy. It is purely a lack of risk management failure by government.

  2. I think the CEO may have been right. But yes, the government was also foolish to invest so much in archaic technology, given that it is completely obvious to everyone that renewable energy is the future.
    Almost everyone, everyone except for those like counsellor Brown and his friends in the old CLP government [accept that].
    Meanwhile I have my own private power plant, I paid for it and the government buys power of me at a very reasonable price. Do you have a problem with private enterprise?

  3. Clearly, True But, as is the way it seems with many entitled public servants, you don’t quite grasp the difference between free enterprise and a free ride.
    So next time when passing the welfare dependant household at the end of the street, why don’t you stop in and thank them for their contribution to the extra calories on your proverbial.
    Solar and wind power are great over time as they become affordable.
    We should slowly move in their direction. Moving quickly before the technology is suitable quite simply costs the earth.
    Because it is not only expensive, it is in addition to our vital existing capacity which itself represents a vast existing investment in financial terms from which it take decades to de-invest.
    The additional solar and wind infrastructure we are trying to force into the system is financed by dollars earned by expending energy additional to normal requirements!
    Yes, True But dollars equal energy!
    The result is the generation of considerably more carbon than before we started, topped off by soaring energy costs to the end consumer. The underprivileged. Yes, all in all a completely futile exercise as far as saving carbon.
    But a really great way to sow the seeds of despair and inequality.

  4. As someone who has been welfare dependent in the past and well aware of the possibility of being there again it made good sense to invest in cheaper energy when I found myself in the position where I could afford it.
    I got a loan and bought an affordable power system. It is a modern power system, it’s efficient, and will last a long time.
    It’s the future that I’m looking towards, unlike the previous government who insisted on investing in expensive and archaic technology.
    I export power to the grid and am paid accordingly. I also help pay for the infrastructure that supports that.
    As a counsellor I guess you could be called a public servant, so I assume your first sentence you were talking about yourself, it seems to tally with posts you have made here in the past.

  5. The elitist are always so far from empathy it is amazing that they can bring themselves to notice the people suffering or find $1 for the organisations helping the poor. Hey True But?
    Your remarks are display a complete lack of empathy for anyone struggling with power prices. Your comments also display a “I am okay, not worried about anyone else” tone.
    I do worry about elderly paying so much on power that they cannot afford eat.
    I do worry about the families who are paying so much for power that food is now a luxury more than a necessity for survival.
    Our governments have forced this on the people of Australia by their inability to risk manage solar implementations. What a sad world we live in when the life of ours is so easily dismissed for the belief in a ideology based on propaganda. And greed.

  6. Janet you have no idea who I am or what I do. Really you have no idea about a lot of things. Now the elite may be like what you say but I am not.
    If you knew how many power cards I buy, for instance, you wouldn’t insinuate that I have no empathy for those in a more difficult financial situation.


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