Reblogged from the year Australia’s energy market changes forever.
One: Battery prices will start their freefall sometime this year. Well, yes. That seems pretty obvious. Private show offs and Universities have bypassed business as usual to develop and release battery technology. Every one needs them now. Even the most dyed in the tar sands fossil fuel investor can see the potential for growth in the storage market. Smart business, fuelled by the enthusiasm and novelty of future potential, will start to provide more competitive products. The new paradigm business model is all about sharing ideas and creating abundance by design. These new businesses are going to meet the demand for sustainable energy because there’s no reason for anyone to have any loyalty to the Martian economics. The one David Suzuki spoke of when he said that if you’re going to consider people and the planet to be irrelevant you may as well be on Mars.
When a new idea comes along that’s better, that’s what we use. That’s why we have toilets. At this point, oil and energy magnates look a bit like night soil collectors. Quaint, old fashioned types who just didn’t have much imagination.
Two: Consumer concerns about stranded energy market assets affecting power prices for those left on the grid will hit the mainstream and mass media on a regular basis. This has got to the point that mainstream media can’t ignore it anymore. There’s also al lot of loud conversation and constant reporting via indie and social media, of dodgy business practises, including identity theft and rorts. In an effort to retain what little relevance they have, the MSM will start to pick this up more frequently. For example, from the Renew Economy site: How big utilities plan to kill solar.
RenewEconomy has written before that the proliferation of solar PV in the mass market – reducing household energy costs and offering negative cost emissions abatement – has the potential to redefine the energy price debate, if the politicians could seize the moment. But they are under intense pressure from the industry, and all along the value chain from retailers to state government-owned distributors.
In other words the old paradigm was a closed shop and you weren’t invited. Representation? I’ll have to google that. Billions of dollars have been spent gold plating formerly public assets and maintaining an industry and a business model that are killing us. If not by poisoning, by economic strangulation. For the benefit of a very few who fancy themselves somehow entitled.
And their third point:
One brave network company will decide to sell off a regional network asset, probably at a loss, as they attempt to stay ahead of the utility death spiral and protect the market position of their more viable assets in the suburbs, repeating the well worn historical path of market incumbents retreating to their strongholds when competition gets tough. They will maintain a role in managing and maintaining that asset, but ownership will switch hands either to an overseas buyer with money to burn, or locals who are serious about their community and ensuring energy infrastructure serves their needs. The project will entail switching to a locally managed micro-grid, and may get funded through the demand management incentive scheme, or may just stack up on its own.
Seriously, I’m all over this like a rash. Locals who are serious about their community is something of an understatement. There are far too many rural communities who are absolutely fucking desperate. The combination of trade and fiscal policy have cut them off at the knees. My interests are, for one, because of the current scandal with Origin Energy. Now I’ve started talking about how badly they’ve treated me, other people are coming out of the wood work, telling the most horrendous stories. Fraudulent appropriation of accounts and billing rorts that you have to go to court to fight. How badly does a corporation have to behave before we consider its existence? It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of other power companies out there. And it’s not as if they can’t stand to see the expected standards raised.
The other is the issues surrounding power and the privatisation of utilities. As one person summed it up, utilities are a natural monopoly. There’s only so much you can get out of them and everyone in the country is dependent upon the stability of those systems. It was never a good area to expose to free market economics. It means that households bear an added burden of having to pay shareholders for a basic bloody utility with no benefit in return. Less than no benefit. They have the system gamed against them in favour of addicted gamblers and Swiss bank account holders.
The big move is to locally owned, distributed networks. Aside from the negatives, the selling points are the money, which stays local and opportunity to get involved in really innovative programs that better meet our needs. Yes it’s also a lot cleaner. But when you look at the numbers that’s almost incidental at this point.
People can and are seeking alternatives to the vampires. They’re doing very well at it, too. Energy blogs are keeping a running tally on the competition between local councils to become the first zero net communities.
Towns are a good size to take advantage of ideas like this. There’s just enough people to make it happen. Usually the location is a benefit as well. For example the Shire where I live, Campaspe. All the permitting systems for off grid living are already in place because it’s a rural area. There is no shortage of sustainable development experts around who can assist local government in overhauling their permits systems to encompass green technology. Things like bio-digesting sewerage systems in place of septics. Things like Stirling engines that can generate power by running on the smell of the dunny. Things like inbuilt rain – grey water systems and alternative building styles. All these things are designed to contribute resources, which contribute prosperity, to the community. They do so in the main without putting more stress on existing public infrastructure. By developing the necessary business to build and manage this zero or positive net approach, long term local jobs are also created.
And the advisories necessary to begin planning a working group to carry out these projects within the communities themselves are all tried and tested, available free of charge.
A lot of people in the bush feel betrayed by government and business trade. They believed in the system. They spent their lives working to provide food for the nation and export. They did their bit. They worked hard. And now instead of a thank you they’re getting mortgage reminders and $6 a tonne for pears. Alone they forfeit the title and go down the back shed and hang themselves. Together they build community banking, local power companies and debt buy backs.
I know which one I think is the more attractive option.
Renew Energy’s point four: The innovators will continue to stir the pot. Like we’d stop now.