Thursday, May 22, 2014

NYT wisdom:  The Big Melt Accelerates

Muir Glacier at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska is among the many worldwide that are disappearing. Muir, left, as seen in August 1941, and photographed in August 2004.



What the NYT didn’t note is that the glacier has been shrinking since at least 1794, which it was mapped by the Vancouver Expedition. That’s according to a 1912 book published by the National Geographic Society, and which is no longer in copyright. A page below:

The 1912 book says that Muir Glacier “extended 25 to 40 miles farther to the south in 1794” and that there were “native legends of the greater extension of the glaciers.” Muir Glacier receded 1.5 miles in a single 10-year period between the time John Muir himself documented it in 1879-1800 and H.F. Reid visited in 1890.

If this glacier has been retreating for over 220 years, and likely for centuries before if the native legends are accurate, how much of this is due to current CO2 production?

Weasel words about the Antarctic

by Dr. Tom Sheahen

Q. On TV I saw that the ice in Antarctica is collapsing, and that will raise sea level and inundate cities. Others reports say this will take thousands of years. How serious is the problem?

What you are witnessing here is a result of confusion between the public perception of the ordinary meaning of words, and the very special definitions used in scientific discourse.

Geologists deal with changes in the earth that occur over epochs of millions of years. Anything that happens in less than 10,000 years is “sudden,” and something happening in only 1,000 years is “instantaneous.” To geologists, the word “collapse” is appropriate for a 10,000 year process.

A hot-topic in the media these days has to do with the West Antarctic Ice Shelf (WAIS), a region comprising about 8% of the ice covering Antarctica. Within that region, there are two glaciers that are sliding down to the sea at a steady pace, as glaciers always do. They comprise about 10% of the WAIS, less than 1% of Antarctic ice. This descent has been in progress for several thousand years, and is neither new nor man-caused. It will go on for a few thousand more, after which they’ll be gone. In the parlance of geology, those two glaciers are collapsing.

If that doesn’t sound to you like your usual meaning of the word “collapse,” you’re absolutely right. It’s a specialized geological term.

Unfortunately, the major media overlook the distinction of meanings, and then make the further generalization from two specific glaciers to the entire WAIS, and moreover to Antarctica in general. Scientists who point out the small actual glacier size (and volume of ice) are brushed aside in the rush to get a headline or a flamboyant sound byte that will keep the viewers tuned in. Words like unavoidable collapse carry a sense of foreboding.

This isn’t just a problem from geology. Confusion over the meaning of words used in science crops up frequently. Laws of physics (e.g., conservation of energy) are said to be true in general, meaning “always true.” But if a physicist says “that is generally true,” a non-scientist hears “that is usually true” – meaning “most of the time, but not always.” Neither is aware of the other’s interpretation.

The word “average” is easily misunderstood. For any set of data, about any topic, you can construct an average. But it may be irrelevant – a good example being the “average temperature of the Earth.” Regional and seasonal variations are so great that a single average number is meaningless. And yet people have such familiarity with the word “average” – batting averages, school grade averages, etc. -- that it’s commonplace to believe that any statistic called an “average” represents something real.

Via email

Greedy Greenie in Britain

'Can't afford NYC I'm afraid mate. Am in a big job but low pay': Councillor slammed after he complained about his salary on Twitter - despite earning £32,000 a year

A local councillor has been slammed after he complained about the 'low pay' he gets for his public duties - despite earning £32,000 a year as an assistant mayor.

Bristol council cabinet member Gus Hoyt, 38, made the controversial remarks in a Twitter conversation with a friend about a trip to New York.

Green Party member Cllr Hoyt, who gave up work after he was elected, told the friend: 'Can't afford NYC I'm afraid mate. Am in a Big job but low pay...local government....'

His online remarks have since been blasted by political opponents, who branded him out of touch with ordinary people.

The council's Lib Dem deputy leader Chris Martin asked him: 'Your combined income is public record and is £32k - the question is how do you consider that low pay?'

And Labour candidate Naomi Rylatt added: 'I'm appalled that Councillor Hoyt is ignorant enough to think £32,000 is low pay.'

The £32,000 Cllr Hoyt gets in allowances for his council work are £5,300 more than the average British worker's annual wage.

Mr Hoyt, who is responsible for neighbourhoods, environment and council housing, later attempted to defend himself against online critics by writing: 'It's quite interesting how some people are only driven by negativity and hatred. Must be horrible.'

University-educated Hoyt receives a basic allowance of £11,530, which is paid to all councillors, on top of which he gets an extra £20,266 for being an assistant mayor.

He is not contracted to work a specific number of hours but said that he regards being a councillor and an assistant mayor as two full-time jobs.

Cllr Hoyt quit his job after being elected and now receives a basic allowance of £11,530 as well as an extra £20,266 for being an assistant mayor

The former labourer has since insisted that for most of his working life he has been on minimum wage and understood what it meant to exist on a low wage.

He said: 'My comments were said in the context of my friend living in New York and earning much more than me.  'I simply could not afford to go for a week's holiday.'

But he has continued to attract disapproving tweets from locals, with one Twitter user, Bristolgirl67, writing: 'If 32k is low pay I'd like to be low paid...I currently earn a quarter approx of that.'

The criticism comes after it was revealed Cllr Hoyt bought an ex-council house for £186,000 in an auction in 2012 - despite it being Green Party policy not to sell off authority homes.

Reacting to criticism over the purchase of the ex-council house, he said he entered into a blind auction for the property and did not know it was owned by the council until he had received official documents. [Disputed]

First elected to serve Bristol's Ashley ward in 2011, Mr Hoyt will have to contest his seat again next year.

The national average wage for a full-time worker is £26,500, and the annual salary for someone in a full time job on the national minimum wage is £13,124.


A celebration of Spring

A fraternal greeting from Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser, German-born and now living in Canada

If you live in the northern climes, as I do, spring is an overpowering force. After a long winter and weeks of nature seemingly in an eternal slumber, spring arrives overnight, without warning and drawn-out preludes.

One day it’s cold and dreary and the next day you wonder how life can re-emerge so exuberantly after a long hibernation.

In much of this continent’s environs, spring is almost non-existent, winter gives way directly to summer. Some voices say we have only two seasons - winter and construction season.

In contrast to central Europe, where spring starts in February or March with a slow but steady progression of nature, the continental climate here goes from one extreme to another in no time flat.

Yesterday you froze your buns, today you feel the heat. The trees are budding, the weeds are growing and everything else is forgotten.

Six months of drudgery shovelling snow and scraping the ice off your car’s windshield are all forgotten, swiftly becoming a distant memory. Welcome spring!

Enjoy the season!


The secrecy continues

Warmism cannot stand the light of day

Attempts to get critical information from agents of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meet with little success. Why? They claim immediate response to their work is mandatory for planetary survival and time is running out.

Here is what Slater reported on March 30 2014.

"In a new U.N. report released on Monday morning (Japan time) scientists come to a stark conclusion: Unless the world changes course immediately and dramatically, the fundamental systems that support human civilization are at risk."

If true, surely the world has the right to know every bit of information used for this conclusion, but that hasn’t happened. There’s a contradiction between orchestrated publicity raising the threat, but silence, obfuscation, and outright denial regarding questions about important data, process, and methodology. Suspicions are driven by natural curiosity and desire for complete openness in science, but also by their behavior to date.

What have they got to hide? A great deal, as the leaked Climate Research Unit (CRU) emails attest. CRU countered challenges to their views by setting up the PR web site RealClimate and controlling information such as William Connolley’s editing of Wikipedia entries. Publicly they played the victim card claiming they were ordinary scientists trying to do their work but overwhelmed, possibly deliberately, by Freedom of Information requests. The requests occurred because they refused to provide answers and information. A siege mentality was apparent from the start.

The Wegman Report investigation and analysis of the hockey stick fiasco provides an example in the critical paleoclimate group.

"Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent. Moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that this community can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility."

The latest effort to get information released was thwarted by a court ruling regarding Michael Mann’s material. It said Mann’s work was protected from Freedom of Information (FOI) requests due to the “proprietary nature” of the information. How this impinges on the Amicus Brief, filed by a consortium of media in Virginia to obtain the same information, remains to be seen. The real issue is the data he is withholding, but that is not the Amicus’ concern. The opening paragraph of the Argument explains,

"Exemptions to VFOIA (Virginia Freedom of Information Act) must be narrowly interpreted to comply with the legislative intent behind the law and to ensure the public and the news media sufficient access to the government to promote an understanding of its operations. Public universities are necessarily included in VFOIA and the media has a strong interest in being able to monitor University spending operations. While truly proprietary information in the possession of a public university should not be subject to request under VFOIA and in fact is properly exempted, email among professors is not entitled to a blanket treatment as proprietary. Instead, such communications are an essential part of the functioning of the University and must be subject to public scrutiny. Because such communications have been held not to implicate academic freedom, and because the type of email at issue here does not include unpublished information in which the professors or the University have a competitive interest, it must be subject to VFOIA. The lower court’s broad definition of “proprietary nature” cannot stand if VFOIA is to retain any meaning."

Openness and access for the media are important but abrogation of that responsibility by the mainstream media (MSM) allowed and encouraged CRU and IPCC behavior.

An appeal is necessary because of the nature of the material; taxpayers funded its production; and it is the basis of globally changing policy. State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli used the “Fraud against Taxpayers Act” against the University of Virginia when seeking Michael Mann’s work. When an author receives compensation does the ownership of the article belong to the payee, unless otherwise agreed? Did any of the IPCC participants contract retained ownership of their work? Participation in production of a public document with global policy implications implies you will provide full details in its derivation.

Leaked CRU emails indicate important players, like Phil Jones, CRU Director, anticipated the questions. He advised people how to hide and avoid FOI requests. Here is an email he sent on 2 February 2005.

"Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better this time! And don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it.We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who’ll say we must adhere to it!"

On 10 December 2008 he wrote to Ben Santer;

"Haven’t got a reply from the FOI person here at UEA. So I’m not entirely confident the numbers are correct. One way of checking would be to look on CA (Climate Audit), but I’m not doing that. I did get an email from the FOI person here early yesterday to tell me I shouldn’t be deleting emails – unless this was ‘normal’ deleting to keep emails manageable! McIntyre hasn’t paid his £10, so nothing looks likely to happen re his Data Protection Act email.

Anyway requests have been of three types – observational data, paleo data and who made IPCC changes and why. Keith has got all the latter – and there have been at least 4. We made Susan (Solomon) aware of these – all came from David Holland. According to the FOI Commissioner’s Office, IPCC is an international organization, so is above any national FOI. Even if UEA holds anything about IPCC, we are not obliged to pass it on, unless it has anything to do with our core business – and it doesn’t! I’m sounding like Sir Humphrey (bureaucrat in English TV comedy series) here!"

And then a devastating postscript in a 21 February 2005 email to Michael Mann, cc’d to Bradley and Hughes.

"PS I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data.

Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act !

On 21 January 2005 Phil Jones responded to concerns about FOIA from Tom Wigley, former Director of the CRU, grandfather overseer of the IPCC central characters.

As for FOIA Sarah isn’t technically employed by UEA and she will likely be paid by Manchester Metropolitan University. I wouldn’t worry about the code. If FOIA does ever get used by anyone, there is also IPR to consider as well. Data is covered by all the agreements we sign with people, so I will be hiding behind them. I’ll be passing any requests onto the person at UEA who has been given a post to deal with them."

IPR is Intellectual Property Rights and similar to the Proprietary Rights (PR) Michael Mann used to prevent release of his material. Jones suggests it is the final fall back position and so far it seems to work for Mann.

The Virginia media group Amicus Brief may redress problems created by Mann’s use of PR. Mann knew that as a “public figure” he was subject to a different level of what was defamatory. Shouldn’t that also apply to his PR? He tried to downplay the challenge claiming he was a ”reluctant public figure”. This reluctance didn’t prevent him promoting public adulation and recognition by bragging about and falsely claiming he was a Nobel Prize winner. Actually, the Nobel Institute gave it to the IPCC for their contribution to world peace. This categorically implies the IPCC work had global implications and therefore much greater consequence.

Mann consistently advances the importance of his work and the threat it confronts. He makes the link in such works as, “Do Global Warming and Climate Change Represent A Serious Threat To Our Welfare and Environment? He pushes the same message in manytelevision appearances. These are hardly the activities of a “reluctant” person.

In my opinion this changes the standard of disclosure for his data and work. What is the basis for such an alarmist message that demands world-changing action with economic and social upheaval? Taxpayers who funded and are impacted have a right to know.

Earlier I said the PR was the final fall back position, but that only applies to legal actions. Phil Jones used a few unscrupulous tactics successfully. He convinced the University of East Anglia (UEA) that they should not have to reply to request from Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit. He did it by denigrating and demeaning them with phrases like “types of people” in his 3 December 2008 email to Wigley,

"When the FOI requests began here, the FOI person said we had to abide by the requests. It took a couple of half hour sessions – one at a screen, to convince them otherwise showing them what CA was all about. Once they became aware of the types of people we were dealing with, everyone at UEA (in the registry and in the Environmental Sciences school – the head of school and a few others) became very supportive.

Jones anticipated FOI request for emails by advising erasure. On 2 February 2005 he wrote,

"If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone."

Did this attitude cause him to use the second defensive technique of losing the data? On 29 May 2008 he advised Mann and others to erase emails.

"Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith (Briffa) re AR4? Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis. Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar to do likewise."

Apparently, Mann’s material or data is not erased or lost yet. Presumably he believes the PR ruling provides all the protection he needs.

Data Mann withholds was used to create the “hockey stick” handle and data Phil Jones lost created the blade, an event he said was “not acceptable”. The graph dominated the 2001 IPCC Report as Ross McKitrick detailed. The Report was pivotal in convincing the world that human produced CO2 was causing global warming. The hockey stick graph became the poster child.

Justice demands that Mann’s claim of Proprietary Rights be offset by the way in which the data and work was funded, produced and used. Funding was public at all levels, the IPCC is a UN agency globally funded, their work received maximum public approval with a Nobel Prize, their work was consciously directed and promoted to influence public policy through the Summary for Policymakers that profoundly altered national and international policies for energy and economies. If they believe the work done is so valuable, why do they persist in keeping it from the public? It is another example of the gap between justice and the law, especially as it relates to climate and the environment.



Four articles below

Climate Change Research Axed in Australia

The fallout from the new government’s budget is still being seen in Australia, but it is already obvious that climate change is a loser when it comes to funding. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has long been skeptical of global warming and the science behind it, but with his new-found legislative power it seems as though he is looking at making that viewpoint into law. According to critics, there is no longer even the pretence of working towards limiting the effects of climate change as the government works to protect the interests of fossil fuel producers and businesses. Whether or not there is a real connection between big business interest and the new budget, Abbott and his cabinet have taken the axe to climate change research and are poised to fundamentally damage all scientific research in Australia in the process.

The budgetary facts are inescapably grim for researchers and scientists based in renewable energies and research. The funding for all government programs related to climate change is set to shrink at an alarming rate, going from $5.75 billion this year to a scant $500 million in the next four years. Additionally, the Emissions Reduction Fund which is meant to help lower greenhouse gas emissions in Australia is going to be reduced to only $1.14 billion. This was devastating news after Environment Minister Greg Hunt had gone on record promising to provide $2.55 billion to fund the program. Nevertheless, it is not only climate change programs that are feeling the pinch of the Abbott budget. The Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, will have $111 million worth of funding slashed over the next four years, which will affect an uncertain number of programs and a loss of tenth of the CSIRO workforce.

The outlook is bleak from the standpoint of scientists and researchers in Australia, many of whom will probably leave the country in order to find work elsewhere. This represents a loss of a skilled workforce for a country that is already seeing a six percent unemployment rate. Despite harping on the jobless rate, the Abbott government has not provided a solution to getting more people working. Cuts to climate change programs and scientific research are only the tip of the unemployment iceberg. Under this budget, unemployment rates are set to rise to 6.25 percent by June next year. This is worrying news for the hundreds of thousands of Australians currently out of work or who are facing the prospect of unemployment in the wake of the new budget plan.

But it is not only highly educated scientists who may lose their employment after climate change research was axed by the government that is currently running things in Australia. There are thousands of jobs connected to renewable resources that will also be lost due to funding cuts. Thousands of jobs exist in rural areas where renewable energy sources like wind and solar power have a great presence. Wind mills and solar energy outposts have to be built in rural areas that have enough space to accommodate them. People who own the land these are built on also see an income from the renting of their property to the operators of this machinery, an income they will most likely lose should funding be cut so drastically. It looks as though funding for climate change programs is not just an issue of ideology, but a problem of real-world economics.

Some have claimed that the cuts are completely ideologically driven and have nothing to do with principles of budget balance or good governance. Greens party leader Christine Milne called out the prime minister’s oppositional stance to climate change science. She referred to the government’s repeated claims to support emissions reduction and called the budget a repudiation of that, a dropping of the curtain on their real designs on the issue. She went a step further, calling the budget an attempt to “shore up the vested interests of coal-fired generators and the old order of Australia.” Her comment points to the role of the mining industry, which provides six percent of the country’s economy.

There is some good news for climate change funding and the scientific research community that is facing down the barrel of the Abbott government’s budget. Until the budget passes the senate, there will be no changes to funding and organization of the sector. For now, climate change research is safe from getting axed and if the senate does not allow the budget to go through, the jobs that could be lost will still exist in Australia’s renewable energy sector.


Qld solar tariffs under threat

QUEENSLAND homeowners who use solar panels could be worse off under laws that will no longer guarantee them a feed-in tariff of eight cents.

Laws due to be passed tonight will mean the responsibility for paying the tariff will switch from government-owned distributors to retailers after June 30.

And consumers will have to negotiate directly with their retailer for the price they are paid.

The Queensland Competition Authority will set a tariff rate for Ergon Energy customers in the immediate future, given the very limited competition outside the southeast corner.

Energy Minister Mark McArdle says the changes will lift the cost burden from the network businesses, making the scheme fairer for all Queensland consumers.

"It will put downward pressure on electricity prices," Mr McArdle told parliament.

"Feed-in tariff payments will not be cross subsidised by consumers, making the arrangement far more sustainable over the long term."

Electrical Trades Union state organiser Stuart Traill says the 40,000 consumers on the eight cents feed-in tariff will have little to no bargaining power with large energy corporations.

"They will be worse off, and a lot of them will be pensioners," he told AAP.

"And there will be job losses in the solar industry because there will be less incentives to move to solar now."

Mr Traill added the plan was ill considered, and the returns would be minuscule compared to how much could have been saved if the 44 cent feed-in tariff had been reformed.

The 44 cent tariff, paid to some 284,000 people who were first to sign up to the scheme, will remain unchanged.

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the Opposition would not oppose the bill but said the Newman government had broken an election promise.

"The LNP promised the scheme would be safe and kept at the same rate," Mr Pitt told parliament.


Solar panels ‘are time bombs’

THE Coalition has likened the spate of house fires caused by allegedly faulty rooftop circuit-breakers to the pink batts fiasco, claiming Labor ignored warnings that subsidies for solar power would create a similar honey pot for dodgy operators.

As revealed by The Australian, Advancetech, the Queensland company that imported and sold 27,000 solar power DC isolators, went into receivership last Friday, leaving tens of thousands of homeowners to replace them in their rooftop arrays or risk a ­conflagration.

The Queensland and NSW governments have issued recall notices for the Avanco isolators after 70 of them burnt out, in some cases causing minor house fires.

Also recalled is a PVPower branded isolator imported and sold by Swiss electrotechnical products supplier DKSH, though that began in March at the instigation of the company.

Describing solar panels as “ticking time bombs”, Nationals senator Ron Boswell said there would be “possibly thousands” of other dangerous breakdowns.

The Queensland senator said the Labor government’s subsidy to encourage home owners to install solar panels, the Small-scale Renewable Energy Certificates scheme, led to an overheated market in which shoddy operators and cheap imports thrived.

“The flaws and waste associated with this scheme have been largely under the radar because of the scale of the personal tragedies associated with the pink batts fiasco, but as an exercise in silliness, waste, and maladministration, the solar scheme has been its absolute equal,” Senator Boswell said.

“It has a long way to go before it plays out, as systems installed age.

“Fire-prone isolators in rooftop solar arrays in Queensland and NSW are just the sort of problem Labor was warned about, and ignored, as it ramped up demand for its solar program in 2010.”

He quoted several experts who had given evidence to a Senate committee on the topic that year, including the chief executive of environmental credits trader Greenbank Environmental, Fiona O’Hehir, who said the subsidy gave rise to possible dodgy and dangerous installations.

“You would actually have DC generation on your roof, which can be as high as 120V DC. A flood of cheap imports into Australia could mean that we have significant risk,” she said at the time.

“If it continues at this rate, we will soon end up with a situation along the lines of the insulation program, which would be a disaster for the renewable energy industry.’’

The SREC scheme is still in place, though at a much reduced rate of subsidy, and is under review pending the outcome of the inquiry into renewable energy by businessman Dick Warburton.


Subsidies for clean energy to hit $21bn

SUBSIDIES for renewable energy schemes such as rooftop solar panels and wind farms will cost electricity consumers up to $21.6 billion by 2020, a new analysis has found.

A submission by the Minerals Council of Australia also warns that more gas- and coal-fired power stations could be mothballed or permanently closed as the renewable energy target puts pressure on the electricity market and slashes their revenues.

If this happens, retail electricity prices “can be expected to increase”, according to an economic analysis commissioned by the council which represents mining giants including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Glencore Xstrata.

The analysis also hits back at fresh claims by the clean energy sector that the RET will create up to 18,400 jobs by 2020, declaring “the most immediate effects” from subsidising the renewable sector are job losses as cheaper forms of energy are crowded out.

“Additional job losses can be expected to arise from the drain on economic activity as a result of higher electricity prices,” it finds.

Former Queensland treasurer Keith De Lacy — now one of the nation’s best-known company ­directors — declared it was “plain crazy” to have schemes such as the RET, solar feed-in tariffs and carbon tax that were driving up power bills.

“The Australian public keep complaining about the increases in the costs of living and this has become even more so since the budget,” Mr De Lacy told The Australian yesterday.

“But one of the biggest increases in cost has been the price of electricity ... It’s the most fundamental of services to the Aus­tralian public … These kind of things just make some people feel good but don’t achieve anything.

“They’ve got no place, I believe, in a modern economy.”

The comments add to pressure on the Coalition, given it is split over what to do about the RET.

According to the Principal Economics review commissioned by the Minerals Council, the RET scheme has an opportunity cost (money that could have been invested elsewhere) of more than $36bn by 2020-21.

The analysis finds that subsidies that are recovered through the sale of renewable ­energy certificates, which are ­directly passed on to consumers, could reach between $19.3bn and $21.6bn by 2020-21, covering part of the cost to build the ­infrastructure.

The miners are wielding the figures in a bid to convince the government-appointed RET review panel that the scheme is ­excessively costly for households and industry, and cannot continue the way it is.

“These are the additional costs paid by energy consumers: households, domestic firms and exporters such as the mining sector,” the council’s submission says.

The submission also warns that the RET will encumber business with “uncapped and high costs for subsidies”, particularly for the scheme for rooftop solar PV panels, “because of poor ­design and a series of inchoate policy shifts”.

In 2010, then federal minister Martin Ferguson said the RET was a “bonus to the renewable sector of the order of another $20bn to $30bn in commonwealth government support”.

The Australian Industry Group has called for the RET to be maintained, despite demands by some businesses that it be scrapped because it is expensive.

The AiGroup says that while the cost of building wind farms and solar panels is passed on to customers, extra energy from wind farms and solar panels has pushed down wholesale prices.

This has also been a key pillar of arguments by the Clean Energy Council, which is wielding its own research by ROAM Consulting that finds household energy prices would be $50 a year lower by 2020 with the RET, and that leaving it alone would create 18,400 jobs.

The Minerals Council has told the panel lower wholesale prices are not a “function of competitive forces but of government intervention”, are likely to be short-lived and undermine investments in coal- and gas-fired power stations needed for reliable electricity supplies.

The analysis points to power station retirements including the permanent shutdown of the Munmorah black coal power ­station in NSW and temporary closure of South Australia’s Playford.

“Overall retail price rises have therefore been lower than they otherwise would have been,’’ the analysis says.

Wholesale electricity prices are “likely to increase” if power generators that become unprofitable close. Minerals Council chief executive Brendan Pearson said access to cheap, reliable energy had been a “source of economic strength” for Australia. “This is no longer the case,” he said.

The analysis draws on previous modelling. It quotes estimates by SKM MMA for the Climate Change Authority in December 2012 that put the cost for buying certificates for large-scale renewables at $15.9bn by 2020-21 and for small-scale renewables at $3.4bn — totalling $19.3bn.

Like most of the figures cited in the new analysis, these are based on an assumption of no carbon price — which the analysis says is appropriate as the Abbott government has announced its plans to repeal it.

To get to the $21.6bn figure, the analysis cites modelling by ACIL Tasman for TRUenergy (now EnergyAustralia) — which wants the RET scaled back — that puts the subsidy for the small-scale scheme at $5.7bn.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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