A Chinese Government controlled company has slashed by half the solar power capacity Canberrans can have on their roofs, blindsiding MPs who fell asleep on their watch.
While the ACT Environment Minister Mick Gentleman, Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury and their parliamentary colleagues were looking the other way, power distributor Evoenergy unilaterally declared that the territory’s residents would be forced to rely on fossil-fuelled power indefinitely.
Evoenergy is a subsidiary of fossil gas network giant Jemena, a company majority controlled by the State Grid Corporation of China, with Singapore Power as the minority partner.
So why is Evoenergy being so evil? It’s because its parent company owns the monopoly gas network in the ACT.
If it only owned the electricity network and had no affiliation with fossil fuel interests, then it would happily snatch customers from gas networks.
But it wants no fuel switching away from planet-destroying gas, because that hits the bottom line.
Fuel-switching to renewables could cost billions of dollars in asset write downs for a Jemena left with stranded gas assets as its market evaporated.
Jemena will stop at nothing to have everyone in Australia connected to their gas pipelines.
Evoenergy is supposed to be a regulated company, but the regulators have done nothing to stop the company putting its own fossilised vested interests ahead of customers.
When Evoenergy was queried about axing solar limits in Canberra they lied about safety risks and social equity, the regulators said “Whatever”. They did not even bother to question the falsehoods or even understand how much reach they had to make Evoenergy act ethically.
So, at the start of the year, Evoenergy decided that ordinary Canberrans with a single-phase electric connection could not have a 10kW solar feed-in any more.
Residences with single-phase connections tend to be smaller houses, and thus are likely to be occupied by the less well off.
Homes with three-phase connections are often of the McMansion type that gobble up power for rampant air-conditioning, multiple big screen TVs, pool heaters and pumps, and so on.
At least 5 million Australians living in Sydney and Melbourne located in the United, Ausgrid and Jemena distribution areas can access 10kW of solar capacity, regardless of the size of their properties.
But not ordinary Canberrans. They will now have to be satisfied with no more than 5kW.
When you limit a connection to 5kW you basically rule out the option of installing more than 10kW of solar panels because of diminishing returns.
A capacity of 10kW of roof-top solar with a 5kW feed-in limit yields a 12 per cent loss of energy fed to the grid.
And it gets worse.
Thanks to Evoenergy’s guillotine, affected residents will not be able to benefit from a Tesla PowerWall 2 battery, because a capacity of 5kW will not make it cost-effective.
If you buy a Tesla battery in Canberra and you can only pair it with 5kW - which generally means 6.6kW of panels – the unit will be largely idle through the winter months.
How did this company get so much control? Where were the ACT’s MPs when this happened?
In fact, until we recently alerted them to what the foreign-owned entity had achieved, the MPs were oblivious to it.
All the politicians’ talk of reducing fossil fuel dependency is just hot air when they stand by idly as overseas interests dictate to forward-thinking Canberrans how much solar they are allowed to invest in.
The government can immediately call on the regulators to roll back Evoenergy’s restrictions if it wants to. But will it?
Albert Einstein said: "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."