The Doust Files – Albany Advertiser 16/8/2011

Here we are living in the Great Southern with three towns on the cusp of powering themselves entirely with renewables: Albany, Mt Barker, and Esperance. And even, possibly, maybe, Denmark.

You’d think a government in the current climate, both weather and debate, would relish the opportunity to proclaim: “In WA we have four major towns powered completely by renewables.”

We are living in a state rolling with money and every quarter the Royalties for Regions team hands out buckets for all kinds of lovely new things that sparkle and glitter.

Meanwhile, power bills head for the sky while the sky shines on empty rooves and power authorities reap huge profits. Since the new man with the puffed chest came to the helm we are paying about 53 per cent more for electricity.

The money stacks up, the surpluses stack up, the bills go up.

Hang on, let me run through it all again just to make sure I’ve got it clear.

We have gas in abundance, but we can’t guarantee supply because we’ve given the selling rights to blokes who export it to make bundles of money for themselves and a State that makes us pay double the price of states that don’t have abundant gas.

We have solar energy in abundance but the puffed up team dumped the solar panel subsidy because solar power is too popular and too many people are supplying all their domestic energy needs, at their own cost, and thus relieving the under-the-pump power grid.

Is there something in this simple picture I am missing? Can someone explain to me why the R for R team is unable to recognise that it has an opportunity to do something lasting with the buckets of money, something smart that will ease the State’s energy crisis.

Minister for Regional Development, Brendon Grylls, said in a public forum that the grid is the problem and that it is unable to take all the power coming back at it from our rooves.

My mates in the solar panel business tell me that’s a load of old fish. Others say solar and wind will not fulfil our complete energy needs.

If the grid is a problem, fix it and if you remove four major towns from relying on power stations 400ks to the north, that surely makes sense and adds to the mix of energy sources.

Late News: The Premier seems to be insisting the major gas producers retain 15 percent of their output for domestic use. Well done, sir.

What next? Solar subsidies for the Great Southern? Our breaths are bated.

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