‘good faith’ – a legislative event or an earned value!

” Australia now has some of the highest electricity costs in the developed world” – the claim was part of a upcoming conference promotion. Why is this so? We can easily say the reason is a range of federal and state government policies. With some bemusement we could even say the amateurs must have been in charge when all this happened, and they could not help themselves but to make changes without understanding the consequences. Another way of saying it is they thought ‘good faith’ was a legislative event and not an earned value!

If you carry over the ‘good faith’ argument as a legislative event, you can easily see how the intention could be manipulated according to the stronger lobbying power of the day. There does not need to be a business case for the policy, it just needs to be a positioning matter for what is ideal. In terms of positioning you might see how the carbon price became known as the carbon tax in the repeal legislation (the definition of ‘price’ was changed to reflect emotive wording ‘tax’), that the renewable energy target became a plaything for posturing the adverse effects and without evidence is said to have contributed to cause energy prices to rise.

It still happens, again and again. The driver – we need change to show we are positive about business. Business according to amateurs is ‘doing something’, and that so important! Think of these examples: Gas market reform needed, it will increase gas production and ease the pricing situation. Maybe it would – if you had a direct one on one relationship between the supply and demand. It is not that simple and business professional understand this, but a graduate and an evaluation team for a policy might not. With interest we note that the EUAA has an upcoming program based on New Energy Paradigm – Better Energy, Better Business. The word ‘better’ we assume means the amateurs will be kept away and only the business astute will be debating the program! The logic being a new paradigm forms the basis of something. But what if the carbon tax or RET can no longer be blamed for some of the highest electricity costs in the developed world. What do you blame then? What then would be the outstandingly clear or typical example or archetype of the cause? Again it would not be hard to consider the amateur was being too ready to expose a popular view without sufficient knowledge of the facts.

Pondering this issue along came a story about the Sydney Second airport and a mad bit of posturing by the small business Minister to an audience on how they will fix who ever gets in their way. The story:

Airport chief slams minister’s delay statement, 06 Sep 2014, Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney: Badgerys Creek Talk of ‘another partner’ –

“A key federal government minister has warned Sydney Airport that if it delays the process of building an airport at Badgerys Creek, the government will find another partner to help build the project.

But that warning immediately produced a backlash from the chairman of Sydney Airport Corporation, Max Moore-Wilton, who stressed that Sydney Airport retained the first right to build another airport in Sydney. He also questioned the seniority of the minister delivering the warning.

“This is not a game for talented amateurs,” Mr Moore-Wilton said. “This is business.””

The illustration here is a very important one. It is business that works to contain costs and it is opportunists that are the costs.

Possibly the more damming is when “Asked about Mr Briggs’ comments, Mr Moore-Wilton said: “We are following in good faith the provision of the legislation governing the process for considering a second Sydney Airport.

I imagine since it’s a legal obligation, Mr Briggs ought to consider his statements very carefully … we paid for the right to negotiate.”

It is all about the ‘right’ is it not?

For those that did not know Max Moore-Wilton, in the days before being Chair of Sydney Airport was secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. We guess he can see an amateur from a long way off and knows business very well.

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Govtape – emissions, consequences affecting rational thinking

Wintelboff recently had a dilemma to resolve in a brokerage agreement – the best energy price was from a renewable sources retailer. The problem was the transition from the carbon price repeal might actually mean the supply would be from a brown coal generator. How could this happen? It happens when the market is artificially manipulated. When those that advocate and love liberal attitudes to the market it is very disappointing that intervention is done purely on the basis of lobbying and not on evidence.

Back to the outcome: The client decided a black coal generator was the better option, and that Gentailer made it very attractive in terms of an offset for their emissions. They carried no penalty for a solar array on the premises, as its purpose was to address the peak demand issues of the daytime energy use. On balance it was a good deal. Not perfect, however, much better than the attempts of interventionists.

We have found a story that backs up the recant above and tells a frightening story of how intervention brought on by ideology can have consequence – even after a very short time:

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/emissions-from-energy-generation-jump-most-in-eight-years-after-carbon-price-axed-20140903-10by8d.html

Emissions from energy generation jump most in eight years after carbon price axed

‘Carbon emissions from the country’s main electricity grid have risen since the end of the carbon tax by the largest amount in nearly eight years.

Data from the National Electricity Market, which covers about 80 per cent of Australia’s population, shows that emissions from the sector rose by about 1 million tonnes, or 0.8 per cent, at an annualised rate last month compared with June.

That is the biggest two-month increase since the end of 2006, and came as a result of an increase in overall demand and a rise in the share of coal-fired power in the market, according to Pitt & Sherry’s monthly Cedex emissions index.

“It is highly likely that the trend directions of electricity demand, generation and emissions seen in the last two months will become set in place,” the consultancy said, adding that the emissions intensity of the power industry was rising after six years of falls.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt did not comment on the rise in emissions when contacted on Wednesday.

Australia’s bipartisan goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels by the year 2020. The government scrapped the two-year-old carbon price in July……..

The share of black and brown coal in the national market rose to 73.3 per cent from a historic low of 72.9 per cent in July, and will probably rise further as gas and hydro start to shrink.

The addition of new wind and solar energy capacity is also about to grind to a halt with the industry anticipating the Abbott government will take an axe to the Renewable Energy Target.

The latest emissions figures come as the 20-megawatt Royalla solar plant, the country’s largest solar farm to be added to the grid, was officially opened in the ACT on Wednesday.

About 370 megawatts of wind in NSW and Victoria and 170 megawatts of large-scale solar are under construction, but “after that, there’s very little in the pipeline”, Pitt & Sherry principal consultant Hugh Saddler said.

Emissions from the power sector account for the largest emissions share of any industry, making up about one-third of Australia’s total. The industry is expected to see a rise of millions of tonnes of emissions in coming months as gas in Queensland starts to be diverted to exports rather than domestic use and the main hydro plants scale back output.

If Hydro Tasmania’s production drops back to levels just after the last drought, output will be about 9 terawatt-hours a year – down from about 12TWh levels before the end of the carbon price.

“If that switches to brown coal, it will be nearly 4 million tonnes” of extra emissions annually, Dr Saddler said.

The share of gas in the market was little changed last month from July at 13 per cent, while hydro’s share dropped to 9.1 per cent from 9.3 per cent, Dr Saddler said.

Wind energy’s share last month eased to 4.6 per cent from 4.9 per cent a month earlier. A windy July saw record wind energy production in the country.”’

 

At the start of this post, we said: a dilemma existed, the client wanted to be progressive, was presented with regressive and it was difficulty to get through the govtape! That’s it – it is govtape not redtape or greentape in the way!

Trust, Context and Success

Trust, context and success. If you consider Australia has, during July 2014, dumped the Carbon Price (renamed to Carbon Tax in the repeal legislation). Then read the Republicans of America do seem intent to introduce a Carbon Tax, you must ask what is the context and what is the success factor they seek for it to appeal and be persuasive for it to be trusted? The textbook stuff will read: In the main economists agrees a tax is the way to put downward pressure on emissions. It follows the Republican faithful don’t like quantitative emissions controls, caps on emissions, or subsidies. However, they do like market forces to organise an economic response. The selling point is that emission can be cut where the market finds it is easier and cheaper to do so. So, can we say they trust a tax to be more persuasive?

Also, how many of you are doubting that your electricity price will reduce in a meaningful way because of the Carbon Tax repeal? Do you not trust? A company known to us recently asked (a wildcard throw-in) during a energy contract dispute to say: Will XXXXXX retailer be discounting their claim for future losses – because the carbon price should not now be factored in. If asked why should they discount – you say because they have claimed future loss as part of the reason for the claim.  Then ask will they be required to show where this is calculated? Who will police the repeal? Trust us the umpire says!

Consider this, you expect the umpire is there to help you – the policy says if you have a problem, call. You phone to clarify where the discussion might be going. The umpire says; you have to consider the impact of what you are saying. Your head goes into explosive mode – you ask yourself where is the natural justice in being implied the victim is a trouble maker, where is the fairness in having your accounts being set in limbo for so long. Is it right for them to continue to affect your business in terms of personal stress and reputation? Then comes a response you don’t expect – the perpetrator asks for more time to influence the umpire. This example may be hypothetical but we are sure you all have had such moments!

To trust – is it context, sincerity or actions that determine that we do? We notice that some will dress especially to impress – at the wrong time, some will gaff at the wrong time, some will talk to an audience about a matter and not know the audience is well briefed on why your view is obsolete. Does it matter one little bit? A little bit of course – the like-minded will be impressed, and the faithful is impressed. However, no one outside the group is impressed and the feedback from outside that group is awful.

We prefer to define what we are talking about before sprucing the benefits of a position. You might notice we said – benefits. This is not a cost benefits discussion or evaluation it is just looking at the positions one might take.

Start with: Trust (the noun), a firm belief in someone or something, acceptance of the truth of a statement without evidence or investigation, the state of being responsible for someone or something.

Therefore if you do trust not seriously, you doubt that you can trust others, that you cannot name what state of trust you are in, then sadly you may have programmed yourself as an advantage taker. Note the word advantage, which is very different to opportunity in this context. If you only seek advantage it is more difficult to find success. However, if you take advantage through an opportunity you may be successful.

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” Bobby Unser, racecar driver and Indianapolis 500 winner. Unser knew all about opportunity and using it to his advantage. But if he wasn’t prepared when the opportunity presented itself, he could lose the race. Unser is one of only ten drivers ever to win the Indy 500 more than three times, and was the first driver ever clocked at more than 190 miles per hour (306kph) on the circuit.

We are now noticing that preparation is equally, if not more, important than opportunity. However, you need to be prepared for opportunity. You prepare through education, self-improvement practices to be ready willing and able to respond to opportunity.

Trust, context and success come from opportunities. Opportunities come from inspiration and motivation. Simply identify where your trust should lay, the context of the framework setting, educate yourself in how to prepare and be successful – easy is it not? If only I did not doubt myself!

 

All about gas, coal has lost it

It is all about gas. Coal has lost it, but it is a good distraction. Petroleum is a convenient price setter. Renewables are the future and the trick is to be to get the traditional utility models to take ownership. But what is the price?

World wide scholarly types have put forward a number of maps of energy analysis for, Japan and globally. Japan is topical because they are more likely to be a first tier part of Australia’s trade. 

The trade approaches call for model development for energy demand, costing, efficiency, and green house gas emission – We trust you noted that models needed included Greenhouse Gas emissions. Why? Because Japan for its energy security must consider its short and long selling trades on energy. Energy needs include considering an individual process basis including fuel cell technology, vehicle technology, internal electricity needs and the usage strata on all levels including regional or national levels with a multiplicity of competing energy processes.

That said, Japan is only one of our global partners with similar concerns. All must consider in their national interest what are some of the comparable energy pathways. Those pathways include: Coal importation, fuels used for electricity production, electricity use in either residential, commercial, and transportation sectors etc. In all these considerations the answers can change over time and some of the drivers will be the relevant technology needs, the gaps in sustainable delivery mechanisms to meet the demands and gaps in supply, and they must also consider the time frames needed to close each fuel supply type and substitute them.

Australia’s politics is sending up a big smoke screen – Coal is King. World prices and demand says something different something like ‘Coal is dead long live the Coal’ 
 We hear of ‘clean coal’ and then we hear it is a nonsense. What is certain is it becoming an undesirable fuel source. This is not saying unnecessary it is simply saying much less attractive on the world stage. Why, technology can now provide better fuel sources without the climate change consequences. So much so that at any price, coal is too expensive. Coal can be burnt, but needs processing to be useful for other purposes. The term embodied energy come to mind here. It means the amount of energy needed to convert may be higher than the value of the material compared to alternative process. Then there is gas! Gas can be used for its molecule – to make fertilizer for instance, to fuel your stove, boiler, it can be a by-product of another process such as syngas. Your waste can even be used to produce it. Gas can be processes or extracted to supply. But the choices are better, cleaner. Granted, not the best energy source, but far more sensible than relying on coal. Hence, the now is all about gas.

Then there is the markets that determine viability to produce. Despite what our Australian policy makers might be telling us – the truth is more than ‘real’, it more than to be affective it is about being effective. It is not good enough to be positioned well, you also need an effective agenda. Or, at least have you agenda smarter than the other guys. What is there to critique about our stance, now:

Carbon Tax – the UK, US Republicans are all active in thinking a Carbon Tax is good. It is a market mechanism that works. This flies in the face of Australia’s Environment Minister saying it does not – even though the evidence suggest Australia’s Carbon Emissions reduced 11% since the introduction of a carbon price. Even more perplexing is why the Australian government put forward to confuse carbon price and carbon tax. For instance in the legislation for clean energy was the term the Carbon Price. The ‘price’ included offsetting for a transition of industry to a low carbon future. In the repeal legislation is substituted the words Carbon Tax as meaning Carbon Price. The UK and US clearly think there is a difference between the two definitions.

An example of the critics is, on 9 July 2014, Lord Deben – a UK Tory and is noted from the Thatcher years to now as expert on the environment has issued a statement through the ABC saying the Abbott Government “appears to be more concerned with advancing its own short-term political interests” than dealing with global warming.

Also, on 7 July 2014, Solar Reserve chief executive Kevin Smith told the ABC’s Four Corners program the company had been deterred by a drift in policy and the planned scrapping of the carbon tax.

It was also concerned about the appointment of Dick Warburton, who doubts that carbon emissions are causing global warming, to lead a review of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target.

“That policy change pretty much took the life out of the renewable energy sector as far as large-scale projects for utility applications [are concerned],” Mr Smith said.

“Other markets around the world are advancing. Australia is going to get left behind.”

On Mr Warburton’s appointment, Mr Smith said: “Clearly that appointment was made because they want to move back towards conventional fuels, coal and oil.

“It’s pretty clear that the policy in Australia is now being centred around big coal. The coal industry clearly has rallied to move policy away from renewable energies because they view renewable energy as a threat and want to move back to convention coal.”

“Just think, these coal companies won’t be able to sell their coal overseas unless they get sequestration or offset commitments and the only way they can do that is if they have an ETS; they can’t pay for it unless they’ve got carbon credits.

“They’ve killed themselves. Coal is dying anyway, but they’ve killed themselves even quicker.

“The whole politics of climate change has regained a bit of ground.”

Then consider:

Palmer United Party’s commitment to keep part of the architecture of the carbon laws in place – the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority – is a big win, and the reality is it’s driven by the market, ‘Newman’ says.

“That’s enough for now; we’ll regroup. We’ll get there.”

But do we really have to lose the ETS mechanism?

The suggestion Is then that the government cross benches are not happy:

This disaster started to unfold to vote for the ETS in 2009?

“A Victorian senator, Judith Troeth, a senior figure in the Liberal Party’s moderate faction, and a Queensland senator, Sue Boyce, crossed the floor to vote with Labor senators when the legislation was finally put to a vote,” reported the Sydney Morning Herald at the time.

Both these women are now gone. But maybe there are a few other senators willing to vote with their conscience.

It’s a time for bravery. There are Titanic shifts everywhere right in both the US and Australia and impressively they are from the conservative big end of town.

Last week was the think piece in the New York Times from the über-conservative Republican politician Hank Paulson, a former US Treasury Secretary, that ricocheted around the world.

It was based on a bipartisan report, Risky Business, that argued that global warming was no different to the global financial crisis and even more dangerous. And yet it was if the world was ploughing straight into a mountain, Paulson said.”

You might even note here – we are not talking technology, it is the passion of addressing the ‘real’ issues.

We wonder what would happen if you introduced the technology issues with wind-based electricity for water electrolysis for hydrogen production and the use of hydrogen in fuel cell vehicles, the use of biomass to produce biofuels for transportation. I bet the vested interests would do all they can to stop the innovation. Despite how short sighted it is to oppose.

To recap why we mentioned our agenda needs to be smarter. Consider this:

“LNG spot prices for Japan at 3-year low

TOKYO — Spot prices of liquefied natural gas for Japanese buyers have been hovering at the lowest level in about three years due to increased supplies and sluggish demand.

     Spot prices are about $11 per million British thermal units, about the same as immediately after the March 2011 earthquake in Japan. From February this year, the price has dropped about 40%.

     Supplies for Asia are increasing. An LNG project in Papua New Guinea, in which Exxon Mobil and JX Holdings have stakes, began production in May instead of the originally scheduled September or later. Now, more than 300,000 tons of LNG from Papua New Guinea flow into the spot market monthly. And shipments from Indonesia and Australia are also steady.

     In contrast, demand is not as strong. Ten Japanese power companies had 2.44 million tons of LNG inventories at the end of April, up 13% from a year earlier. With the temperature through May having been warmer than usual, these companies did not have to generate as much electricity as a year before.

     In South Korea, state-owned gas company Korea Gas piled up LNG inventories as the country restarted nuclear power plants. It is now asking such Japanese companies as Tokyo Gas and Chubu Electric Power to buy its excess.

(Nikkei)”

Danger Danger no doubt!

The wax lyrical, but fact – bad behaviours in the Energy Industry

The Checkout in its wax lyrical style ran a story on Energy contracts including exit fees.  Had we not seen it we may have felt we were alone in our concern for the behaviours in the industry. Obviously, this media version was directed for the public appetite, but the story is based on fact! Consumer laws are very weak and the National Electricity Laws strongly favour the Energy Companies.

The Checkout story was run on the ABC (Australian) on 26 June 2014, 8PM. It is also interesting that it did not highlight a single company practicing or should we say taking advantage of ‘trust me’ then doing the screw you turn on you the user – it highlighted a common practice among many retailers in the industry. We appreciate residential customers have some protections, but that in NSW is set to change or should we say leave many people further exposed to the behaviours. Whilst the market will be fully deregulate, it would seem the Laws and rules of the industry will not be amended soon.

Those with legal training, or savvy enough will avoid the pitfalls and probity issues of the simple thing and essential commodity – energy needs. However, in a conversation with the other side (a energy retailer) recently they admitted that they too found it difficult to follow the rules. Why, consider this: You want to change the wording on your contract – a simple word change on a clause. You have a dispute and that word is found to ‘not flow’ with the rest of the contract. Therefore the wording of the National Electricity Law is to be relied on. It overrides what is written in your contract. Ok that is the scary part. The practical is that mum and dad’s are told ‘we care, we will look after you, you will save, that’s good is it not ‘– you say yes, and Call Centre then declares you are now under contract. So simple – but, you don’t save. That issue is covered off so well in The Checkout Story.

Business customers have a little more exposure in that depending on their size, according to the market, as opposed to Corporations Law, they will need to be careful of the Energy Service Agreement (ESA), the Contract, they have presented to them. For instance, most have terms and conditions in the standard form that will penalize for exceeding consumption caps. The penalty can result in the price offered being withdrawn and you being placed on a default tariff that can be hundreds of percent higher than what you negotiated. Another trap is that you need to be mindful that the network charges are not negotiated in most standard form agreements. You might say, the rules say a network tariff review must be conducted – but beware it is not binding on the retailer that they be negotiated unless stipulated on the contract.

That last paragraph also highlights what you need to know. Your consumption caps are not binding on the network company. The ESA is a contract for supply from the retailer – it protects the retailers from its risk in the market. The transport and distribution networks will rely on what is the constraints of the system and set limits as it sees affects its asset. An example: Your retailer ESA says 20% variation allowed. Your network company – generally a default and deemed contract according to law, say we will impose a demand tariff on you when you exceed 160MWh per annum load. It may be good it may be bad depending on your circumstance. But, what is does not do is connect your circumstance to your ESA. You should also be aware the majority of business is distribution connected and prices set for the transport are determined by an approved formula. If you are large enough to be classified for a transmission connection you can have sway in contracting and negotiating what you take from the system. For the very large customer you also need a team of lawyers to complete the deal.

Now, all above is about import power, what if you want to export power – small scale generation – well what was called a power purchase arrangement (PPA) is now a Energy Supply Agreement (ESA) as described by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). Before we go any further did you notice the near same term and the same acronym meaning something similar but very different in what it does. To use the words of our good friends Solar Professionals: “Can I start by saying that the creation of an ESA template is both very expensive and lengthy in duration. Multiple legal aspects have to be considered when drafting these contracts, from property law, banking institution requirements, GST impacts, numerous funding and system requirements not the mention standard consumer law principals and all the requirements from the AER.” We include this to let you know what is needed is complex and has a very detailed need.

So what started off as a wax lyrical presentation, now shaped the focus on what (watt) can really hurt you – electricity! We guess once the carbon tax is gone, another way to tax will follow! Lets us be a little devil – they might impose a transport tax on delivering you energy? Well it makes sense – they make the electrons cheaper but now the transport cost is fairer?

On that matter of the Carbon Price our politicians are saying they will force the ‘energy companies to pass on the savings’. Did you know the majority of your Carbon Price is blended into your network charges? It is not transparent. The energy retailers cannot unbundle what the network companies levy you. Maybe the politicians need an education too! Yeah, that has appeal – Politicians ESA 101. Or more correctly they might prefer: The tax is dead, long live the tax!

 

Solar mean and means

It is not ‘means’ tested. But it can mean a nightmare. The phone call: My business is wanting to purchase a small scale solar PV array, and I noticed the contract will not guarantee my price, and the price potentially will increase indirectly because the import of electricity will not remain a constant and directly because it is likely the Small Scale Technology Certificate (STC) will not be fixed for the duration.

Why is import of electricity important? The price of electricity is generally either regulated or contestable. Regulated prices are reset according to an application for price changes – you are a price taker. In short, the price changes each reset period and usually set by state government bodies. In a contestable market set by rules of the national body, to reduce your energy consumption you can carry penalties and price risk. Hence, you might find you have to pay a higher price because you have reduced your import of energy needs. Therefore there is no incentive to reduce your energy use.

Next matter is the popular selling point of Solar, and it is the opportunity to benefit from the export of energy. It follows that just as import prices changing is a risk, so is export energy a price risk. Especially when feed in tariffs (FITs) are being phased out, and in Australia – a review of the Renewable Energy Targets (RET), and the promised repeal of the carbon pricing mechanism could see a collapse of the renewable certificate price. The new’ish’ government is hopeful ‘affordable’ energy will follow the review.

So, if you want to protect your purchase by way of a price guarantee from third parties. You most likely cannot if you are larger than 7.5kWp (residential) but under 300kWp. Why? The energy retailers have no interest because of uncertainty exposing them to the price shocks, and commercial buyers of power have a line drawn in the sand of an economic value of no less than 300kWp export capability.

So, if paying a fixed price is important to you – then you should choose an installer who guarantees the price quoted – clearly and irrevocably. Is it possible? Yes, but the vendor needs to be courageous and needs to laterally rethink how they operate. But, we will save that thought for another post.

Still interested in Solar. Onward then we go: What can still be done in Australia to reduce the upfront cost of solar power systems even after hearing “the solar rebate ending”. There is still a financial incentive from the Australian federal government for installing solar. But you need to be quick if you consider the report on the RET review will reach government by July and ‘put to death by the Reich’.

What is tipped to go is the solar subsidy for anyone buying a solar system of up to 100kW. It is called the STC program. Which stands for Small-scale Technology Certificate. Whilst CO2Land org has previously been concerned that the STC is a distortion of the market, it believes any change should be phased out and not shut off suddenly. Another thing to consider is the STC scheme is not described as a rebate (even though it is = it is politically difficult to call it that). If you check what The Clean Energy Regulator says on their website, it says:

“Under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme the reduction in the cost of your solar panel is not a rebate. You will not qualify for any Government-based financial recompense at the completion of any process relating to STCs.”

The meaning of this is that the cash you get off your solar system price does not actually come from the government. It is a government scheme that compels other people to buy your certificates.

So it is a government run scheme, using other people’s money, and it becomes confusing when you consider the question what must change when all government schemes use other people’s money – is it not?  So, if you are confused over why does a scheme that will save you money and tick the box as a financial incentive be considered to have to walk the plank.

The solar Financial Incentive is a subsidy to assist with the upfront cost of installing a Solar Power System. Currently, it is not ‘means’ tested in any way. However, the criteria for claiming it are:

1) Your system is less than 100kWp in size.

2) You get it installed and designed by an accredited professional.

3) You use panels and inverters that are approved for use in Australia.

We said FITs are being phased out, but each state may differ in what is offered. So check out the following, as an example: The Feed In Tariff (FiT). “The FiT is a State Government subsidy in which some states pay you for the electricity that your solar system will export to the grid”.

How to get involved in the Solar Financial Incentive Scheme involves:

1) The regulator creates Renewable Energy Certificates (RECS).

2) The government mandates that fossil fuelled generators have to either build a certain amount of renewable generation (wind/solar) or buy the right to other people’s renewable energy systems in the form of RECs.

3) When you purchase a solar power system for your roof, the government gives you a number of RECS depending on the size of your system is and the region of Australia it is installed.

4) The special type of RECs that you get for under 100kWp solar system are called “Small Scale Technology Certificates” (STCs).

5) You (or more likely your installer) sell the STCs to the fossil fuel generators and use the cash to offset the upfront cost of the solar system purchase.

6) The STC price is a bit like a share price – it fluctuates on the open market depending on supply and demand. E.g. when the solar industry is booming (usually just before the rebate is cut!) then the STC price drops and vice versa.

7) “You can see the current market price of a STC here. Look for the number in the box in the bottom RH corner labeled: STC”.

8) Almost all solar system prices you see advertised will already have the solar Financial Incentive included in the pricing. So watch out for that too.

Earlier we said the amount of solar rebate that you can claim depends on where you live: It is broken down into zones that roughly mean live in the lower southern parts (zone 4) and get less incentive than other parts with central west parts (zone 1) getting the most.

But, beware of a small number of unscrupulous companies that use the “Inflated STC Price Scam” appear to be deceiving the customer into thinking they are getting a great deal and then hitting them with a bill for thousands more than the quoted price when the system is installed.

——

Be clear on what you want:

CO2Land org is aware that many installer/vendor quotes are virtually silent on saying they guarantee what is said in the quote as the STC price.

Co2Land org believes the truly good guys will be totally upfront and transparent that the final amount payable may go up (or down) based on the STC price on the day of the install.

It is up to you to make the decision to buy based on the facts. When ready to sign – why not say ‘This contract is signed for this fixed price only’ and make it a written condition, and have all parties endorse each copy!

 

A ‘true’ reflection of our community thinking

Alan Kohle – finance presenter on ABC News, said: Abolishing the carbon tax will cost real money – $13.7 billion over four years – because unlike the minerals resource rent tax (MRRT), it would have actually worked. He postulated that the repeal of the MRRT and its associated spending measures produces a net GAIN to the budget over four years of $9.5 billion … and this was supposed to be a tax. This makes interesting reading, the MRRT is a tax that is a net gain to the economy and the repeal of Carbon Pricing is a cost. Now we are starting to understand that the Senate is on about – is expected to vote for costs at a time when someone or something declared ‘budget emergency’.

Jokingly, a near neighbour suggested the best way to tackle the deficient is to remove the cabinet from our executive. It makes some sort of sense if you consider the spin doctors make up the words, the power brokers approve and the Ministers mouth the words with Shakespearean gusto, and possibly cannot answer simple questions outside the script, often saying when asked to do so – I am not the author Ill get the person that wrote it to answer?  It would reduce our deficit would it not?

But far more damaging is what our trading neighbours think…Great conversation with a phone call coming in from …….. yesterday afternoon…have confirmed our first ……… be shipped to us end of January, plus additional projects (really interesting ones) over there. They also provided some friendly political advice that our esteemed PM was doing considerable harm in Asia and needed a bit of “polishing”…… brought gales of laughter and the comment that this is why he was not being taken too seriously at the moment because it was not believed he was a true reflection of our community feeling.

Are our Asian neighbors right? What is so sad about this story is that originally, the project mention above was mooted to be manufactured in Australia – government programs were solicited and proved difficult. It also seems incredulous that the program administrators expect the bankable is sufficient because they approve or disapprove through a program. If you go to the bank with that view they are likely to say government is irrelevant – It is starting to sound like a prophesy, is it not!

Then someone said something ridiculous – I thought they were ‘nomads’ – but they get angry when I TALK TO THEM – The joke is in ‘no mads’ OK!

RET designs – Abbotititis or Rudasinus.

Do you have Abbotititis or Rudasinus. Bored with the election being in your face yet not meaning a thing.  Then there is ‘real’ again – It just means it will be reviewed and in the mean time your asset is at risk of being stranded because of the ‘Election’. You are told any decisions will need to be taken with a view of caretaker convention and then we will wait until the ‘dust settles’ and the view of the incoming Government is known.  Can you understand the frustration? Promises are being made yet we are told they are real until after the election!

Now lets look at the promised policy positions:

The Coalition talks of ‘real’ abatement in terms of energy efficiency. The flagstone is the Direct Action Plan. This plan will or may impact your business. We say this because the White Paper consultative process that the Coalition will initiate will only be known should they win office. Yes the ‘real’ is it will be a consultative process expressed as the opportunity for your business to provide input into the design of this ‘potential’ new policy framework. In more simple terms it means the details are not yet developed. However, the Renewable Energy Target (RET) has a commitment from the Coalition to retain a 5% to 25% reduction of emissions by 2020 compared with 2000 levels, but will review this commitment in 2015 (then other statements say 2014). That said they intend to wind back many of the provisions of the Clean Energy Future Plan including abolishing the carbon price and disbanding the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Climate Change Authority, the Climate Commission and the Energy Security Fund. Then we should note the Coalition intends to expand the existing Emissions Reduction Fund to introduce a buyback, and also plans to expand the Carbon Farming Initiative to achieve emissions reductions in the absence of an explicit carbon price – but the reductions must be ‘real’ against baselines ‘to be advised’.

It is most likely the Coalition’s plans to meet emissions commitments will be more disruptive to electricity supply industries and their downstream industries than labor’s.

Labor (why is it called Labor?) – Reported is among other things, this name makes it easier to distinguish references to the Party from the labour movement in general. Source(s): http://www.alp.org.au/australian-labor/l…

Maybe that is ‘unreal’!

 

Labor has two major policies for abatement changes. Continuing of the Clean Energy Future Plan, and the review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET).  The current RET compels large energy users to invest in renewable energy. This is to the benefit of industries such as wind and, up to an including hydro-electricity. The RET purpose is to introduce more capacity into electricity markets and push down wholesale electricity prices. Therefore the RET is challenging for fossil fuel electricity generators, and the changes will affect them directly and the upstream industries, including oil and gas extraction, brown coal mining and black coal mining, indirectly.

 

That said, Labor is committed to a 5% to 25% reduction of emissions by 2020 compared with 2000 levels, and an 80% reduction on 2000 levels by 2050. Labor has also taken the position and made an announcement of an early transition from the carbon tax to an emissions trading scheme in July 2014, bringing it forward from the previous announcement of 2015. Under the scheme the carbon dioxide equivalent would have a floating price linked to the prices of the EU’s emissions trading scheme. Under this policy, the price per tonne for carbon dioxide is likely to be discounted. The impact uncertainty is what will be the effect on the industry assistance packages included within the Clean Energy Future Plan.

Co2Land org said Labor supports the current 20% RET. This still holds true, as the responsible Department (name too long to mention) and advised work on the review of RET is suspended until further notice, and Labor has made a commitment to not review the target until 2016.

Labor’s changes to the Clean Energy Future Plan will create new winners and losers across energy-intensive industries. Labor’s changes maintain a pricing mechanism as a strategy to reduce carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

 

Co2Land org has noted IBISWorld’s August 2013 Report has a more detailed outline of the positions taken by the Labor and Coalition parties on major issues impacting Australian industry including workplace reform, energy, resources, broadband network, transport infrastructure, manufacturing and education. They write:

“The 2013 Federal Government election will be dominated by concerns about the economy. The end of the mining investment boom and the continued decline of the manufacturing sector have set a pessimistic tone among Australian businesses.

The Labor Government has taken a ‘glass half full’ approach, pointing out Australia’s strong economic position relative to other advanced economies and successful economic guidance during the global financial crisis.

In contrast, the Coalition points out a widening Federal Budget deficit, a declining economic growth rate, low business confidence and a weak economic performance relative to neighbouring countries.

The winner of the election will have to balance the government’s role to provide fiscal stimulus and counter-cyclical spending with budget responsibility and a plan to reduce government debt.

The Productivity Commission has estimated that there are $12 billion worth of cost-cutting and efficiency savings available to the Federal Government.

The Coalition has backed away from providing a date for a return to surplus, but asserts it will be sooner than a Labor surplus.

Labor forecasts a return to budget surplus in 2016-17, driven by savings made during 2015-16 and 2016-17 when the economy is expected to be in a healthier state than it is presently.”

 

Wait a minute, recently the coalition did say they aim to save $31B – now we are confused – will the ‘real’ number please stand?

Please note: No Green was hurt in this discussion.

Movements – a Viable CFI methodology

Under debate for some time has been whether reforestation, and afforestation should be part of the CFI. It was thought only conservation planting was viable as a measure under Natural Resource Management (NRM) rules. In more recent times part of discussion was a concern that political movements would be disruptive.

Two announcements made by the Australian Government on these matters by newsletter on 12 April 2013 may be helpful for the debate. Namely:

  1. First reforestation and afforestation project approved, and
  2. No changes to methodology development following changes to the Cabinet.

Posted on April 8, 2013 by co2land, Makers – a Viable CFI methodology the point was made it is not a simple process to develop CFI Methodology and program rules are a major factor in participating, and the recent Government announcements will address most of those points (but not the coalitions position).

On point 1: The Clean Energy Regulator under the Carbon Farming Initiative has announced the first project using the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) (Reforestation and Afforestation) Determination 2013. There are now 53 projects approved under the Carbon Farming Initiative. All projects declared eligible under the CFI Act are published on the Register of Offsets Projects.

On point 2: Work on the development and assessment of Carbon Farming Initiative methodologies undertaken by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) will continue apace under new Ministerial Responsibilities announced recently by the Prime Minister.

DCCEE’s energy efficiency functions will be have been transferred into the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (DRET) while the remaining policy functions currently performed by DCCEE, including the CFI, will be have been transferred to the newly-named Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE).

Former DCCEE staff working on the CFI and other land sector measures will move to DIICCSRTE and continue their work accordingly.

Whether participating in CFI or not is still very much a matter of it depends on the location and the carbon sequestration rates that would be possible for it to be viable.

If we start by avoiding the cost of participation discussion, one non-scientific way to help you decide is to ask: Did the area to be used have really large trees present in the past? If yes it could be very viable. It follows that nature will want to regenerate those areas into large carbon rich forests. In gathering your evidence you could include old local history photos of the areas showing the large density of trees on them. In choosing a more scientific way: Gather the Lot & DP numbers and/or GPS points, and the CFI environmental tools should be useful to tell the landholder the likely sequestration rates. However, as we said in the former Co2Land org post the uncontrollable factor in proving if it is viable is the price of carbon. Notice it was not said the ‘carbon price’ as that is an artificial price set for the transition period.

If we focus on the cost of developing a methodology for inclusion into the CFI program register the major factor is cost in terms of the capability to enter into initiative. You may find innovation is required for a “creative” way to recover the cost of developing a methodology. Or is it? It follows that once published on the climate change website it becomes public information. However, it will still take some effort and there will be a need to lobby Government to allow the methodology to be used by another entity. In equity you should anticipate any agreement might require a royalty payment to the original developer.

If you can overcome the matter of cost, it becomes a question of what CFI environmental tools you refer to for the CFI Mapping and Reforestation Modeling tools. Also the methodology costs will depend on the level of verification and any additional research required, in many cases there are sufficient prior studies (such as survival & growth rates in the targeted region) and accepted calculation methods to do this could be found from a literature search, or you could talk to others trying to develop the same thing. It is understood the web page: http://www.greeningaustralia.org.au/our-projects/land/bio4 will promote further research on this matter.

One suggested project to study as a background search is the NSW Blacktown Council and their Regenesis Project. That project has lessons that can be of benefit to be aware of in your deliberations. One example lesson is they had a significant grant to develop their concepts and actually generated the first carbon credits only to have a later policy decision rule projects within urban boundaries to be ineligible. Notwithstanding, the core of their work is valid. You can view the Regenesis projects on the website – www.australiancarbontraders.com and then click on the Regenesis link on the front page.

So frustration will continue and innovation continues to be encouraged – for those eligible – and that suggests you need friends to be recognized as able to be innovative. At cross purposes you might argue!  An anonymous friend, name provided but withheld, said “in an entirely different forum some years ago we flagged this as a problem for the then announced Innovation Strategy. The senior public servant delivering the local launch responded: We can’t have people solving problems in unique ways that we can’t predict, you wouldn’t know where would it all end up!

It would seem the core problem with the current grant model is that it is primarily a funding model for the usual suspects, as practiced the truly (open) competitive component is only a small % of the funding available.

We need a better approach that covers needs of Universities and commonwealth and state research agencies separately.”

Then we hear funding has no longer been provided for strategic innovation!

Makers – a Viable CFI methodology

Recently a discussion group was asked for information on the area needed to make a Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology viable. I follows the answer is not as simple as it should be and part of the problem is the rules can change and even the responsible entity itself might change. This statement is not an example of a remote possibility, it is very much what is likely to happen.

First issue: The market.

Currently a Australian Carbon Credit Unit is reported as holding steady at approximately the Carbon Price Mechanism expectation of $23 (actually ACCU spot price is $22.60 at 4 April 2013). Compared to the trading prices of others. For example the Carbon + Market Daily (www.cedaily.com.au) shows European Union Allowances (EUA eligible on Australian Scheme from mid 2015 – June 2016: AUD $7.48 – no change) 
* Certified Emission Reductions (CER eligible on Australian Scheme from mid 2015 – June 2016: AUD $0.67 – up 6.4%) 
* New Zealand Units (NZU spot can’t be used to meet liabilities under the Australian scheme: NZD $1.97 – down 2.5%) 
* Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU spot Kyoto units issued under the CFI that can be used to help meet Australian scheme liabilities: AUD $22.60 – no change). They also report of conflicting market drivers, and this is in addition to the Coalition threats to dismantle the carbon price mechanism, that the European market is struggling to hold above EUR5 on moderate volumes. Problems include:

1) An increasing likelihood that backloading will be passed as more countries come out in support of the proposal; and

2) High auction volumes relative to emitter demand.

3) Increased selling in the New Zealand market as more participants’ look to switch out of their NZUs and into cheaper international units.

4) June 2016 prices for EUAs and CERs reflect the cost of these units to an entity liable under the Australian scheme’s floating price phase.

5) The EUA (December 2013 contract) is a focus as this drives price movements and is a key indicator of EU (European Union) market sentiment.

Conclusion – first issue: Transactions involving carbon give rise to substantial risk (including regulatory risk) and are not suitable for all investors. It is recommend that you seek your own independent legal or financial advice before proceeding with any investment decision

Second issue: Carbon Auction Rules.

The Clean Energy Regulator is likely to be required to offer 60 million carbon units in 2013-14 under draft carbon auction rules. The potential is the opening price is at 60% of the international market price. Follow the link of the

exposure draft of a carbon auction determination, and it will outlines arrangements for auctions that are set to begin next financial year.

If you are relying on an incoming Coalition Government to repeal the determination, you should note s113(9) of the Clean Energy Act allows the Regulator to hold auctions even without the determination. It might not be so simple as a statement to win votes – it is written in stone so to speak.

Conclusion – Second issue: Without control of the senate, or if the senate is hostile, a Coalition repeal instrument would be disallowable. This introduces additional risk, and additional to regulatory risk. As in the first issue it is recommended you seek your own independent and financial and legal advice.

Third Issue: ACCU methodology.

It costs up to $1M to develop a methodology acceptable under CFI. Once accepted the transaction cost to create the ACCU’s is said to be about $70,000. Although it is not a definite cost, it can be less but a reasonable guide and it requires you to look carefully at the potential yield of each project and whether you can smear the transaction cost across the entire project to determine the minimum size for it to be a worthwhile program.

One way to develop a methodology and reduce your cost base is to apply to the 

Methodology Development Program (MDP) for a grant to develop the methodology. The 

MDP is a 
$19.6 million for the development of methodologies for use in the Carbon Farming Initiative. The fund is administered by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE).

However, recently the Government has moved from 26 March 2013 that DCCEE be in transition to be part of a new super department called the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. 

It is reported as a move the Australian Government hopes will be seen as logical and a way to portray that climate change is taken seriously across all of government and across all portfolios. Details changes are yet to be fully announced, albeit it is known the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy has changed with 140 projects, 33 university programs and 100 researchers affected – source ABC.net.au.

Conclusion – Third issue: Before expending too much time on the methodology. The suggestion is you follow up on who would administer the program post transition to the super department, and the will to continue with the program. Any changes will have cost implications for your efforts.

If only we had certainty!