Govt energy budget rort

The Prime Minister’s determination to ignore global warming and shower his fossil fuel and political mates with public money is on full display in this budget.

$11 million to refurbish Delta Electricity Vales Point coal-fired power station 

This power station was due to close in 9 years but its co-owner is Trevor St Baker, former Liberal Party candidate and donor of $100,000 to the Liberal Party. St Baker apparently paid $1m to buy this ageing and heavily polluting plant from the NSW Government in 2015. 

If this is not corrupt, we don’t know what is. 

According to National Pollution Index data for 2018-19 the plant pumped into the atmosphere:

  • 176,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide
  • 120,000 tonnes of nitrogen oxides
  • 775 tonnes of deadly fine particles

Delta has since made a cool $113 million in profit thanks to higher power prices and is now to have it fixed up at public expense!  The Government’s line is that this necessary to ensure reliability and efficiency and it will reduce the pollution. The upgrade will also deliver an extra 30MW of power and doubtless more spare cash to donate to the Liberal Party. 

But why should taxpayers pay for this?  

Back in 2018, Delta wanted $750 million over time to extend the generator’s life until 2049. Experts say this is somewhat pie in the sky because renewables are cheaper but it shows how determined the coal sector and this Government is to hang on. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says limiting global heating to 1.5C was likely to require coal power being reduced by between 59% and 78% below 2010 levels by 2030.

Here’s what else the budget offers:

$5 million for electric vehicle manufacture

This is referred to in the budget papers as an Advanced Manufacturing Facility based in South Australia.

The facility is designed to:

…. facilitate the manufacturing and assembly of electric vehicles, and for a bi-directional vehicle-to-grid trial in South Australia to examine the concept and operation of systems which support solar home charging, grid services and virtual storage infrastructure, 

This sounds like a lot to expect from $5 million! 

It’s not clear who will get the $5 million but Adelaide start-up ACE-EV proposes to produce 15,000 EVs by 2025 and this will require $130 million in investment. The first of these vehicles will be launched next year.

The SA Government is spending $4.9 million on its EV Action Plan which will leverage private investment in charging infrastructure. 

There is nothing in the budget for a national EV charging network or any sort of Federal plan even though one was promised last year.

The Government earlier announced $74.5 million between 2020 and 2025 for a Future Fuels Fund to encourage the uptake of “new vehicle technologies” such as plug-in hybrid (PHEV)battery electric vehicles (BEV) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV). Given the Government’s predilection for fossil fuels, the bulk of this may well go to plug-ins and gas-sourced hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The words relating to EVs are to “perform integration analysis and develop improved information on electric vehicles and charging infrastructure”.

Grants will be made available for EV fleet charging facilities.

Meanwhile, there’s $200 million for diesel fuel storage and $211 million to support oil refineries.

There is, of course, nothing for renewable energy because Government says it is now ‘mature’ (as if oil and gas were not), nothing to promote energy efficiency, and of course no price on carbon.

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