Thursday, 5 January 2012

A small price to pay
4 Jan 2012

A RENEWABLE energy company has responded to calls from NSW Landscape Guardians president Humphrey Price Jones that electricity retailers itemise the cost of wind farms on every electricity bill. Recent data from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) puts the cost of wind farms-which make up part of the federal Large Scale Renewable Energy scheme-at around $19 per customer per year for NSW' customers, or around $1.50 per month.

"It is no coincidence that with the explosion of wind farms over the past few years, the cost of electricity has soared", Mr Price-Jones told the Post last month. "And for what benefit?,.. They will make no difference to climate change, assuming of course that there is climate change due to humans. "The only real significant contribution wind farms make is the enormous impost they have on people living nearby to them", he said.

But wind farm company Infigen Energy said the IPART data showed Mr Price Jones' claim to be "ridiculous". "IPART reports... that Mr Price-Jones' 'frightening extent to which wind farms are contributing to the exorbitant rise in power costs' is only $19/year for the average customer", Infigen Energy government affairs manager Jonathon Upson said. "That's right, according to the NSW Government regulator who sets electricity prices, the Large Scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) scheme, which funds wind farms, is costing electricity customers in NSW far less than the cost of a cup of coffee each month. "Mr Price Jones' later comment in the article, 'It is no coincidence that... the cost of electricity has soared,' is clearly ridiculous.

"The Landscape Guardians have made Mt Kosciusko out of an ant hill", Mr Upson said. IPART sets the maximum price retailers can charge households and small business for electricity and in July last year increased by 18% what retailers could charge consumers for their power use.

Approximately two thirds of the increase was due to network maintenance (wires and poles), while the other third was due to the Federal Government's Renewable Energy Target (RET), which aims to ensure 20% of Australia's electricity supply will come from renewable energy sources by 2020. However, wind power currently makes up only 1.5pc of installed electricity generation capacity in NSW, with coal contributing around 65%, hydroelectricity 22%, and gas 11%.

But the federal Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics announced recently that it expected wind power to keep growing in Australia, predicting that renewables would reach up to 24% of total electricity generation by 2035. wind farms would be a major part of that figure, the Bureau said.