Death by Electricity Bill
A frequent Quadrant contributor who, for family reasons, prefers to remain un-named writes:
Dear Quadrant Online,
Your editor has been complaining about his $940 quarterly electricity bill. Well, a fortnight ago my 94-year-old aunt was killed by her power bill.
This year my aunt was very worried about her rising electricity costs and, even though she could afford to pay, she tried to get through winter by keeping the heater switched off.
Then she caught a cold. Instead of switching on the heater, she put on extra clothes to try and stay warm. (She would wear two blouses on top of each other, plus a thick cardigan over a wool jumper.) But because the air in her room was cold, she developed a heavy cough, which grew steadily worse. My cousin and I were visiting our aunt on alternate afternoons, and the place was freezing. Each of us would immediately put on the heater when we arrived.
The bug then settled on my aunt’s chest. After several days the point was reached where an ambulance was summoned, the paramedics needing to call in back-up support because her temperature was so low it had to be raised before she could be moved. After six hours they had raised her temperature enough to put her in the ambulance and rush her to hospital. Once there it was another long wait, as more attention was needed to raise her temperature and keep it there. It was now evident she was struggling with pneumonia.
She was admitted to a ward and went through three weeks of a slow downward spiral. Then my aunt died.
And all of this was triggered by unprecedented and obscenely high electricity costs which frightened a vulnerable and elderly woman and led to her demise.
No single political party is to blame. Everyone collectively in government — Lib, ALP, Greens, Nat, Ind — is responsible for what happened to my aunt and so many others across this once-sane country, now seemingly bent on a policy of national self-destruction.
Those who purport to be our leaders chatter and play games while people die. A pox on them all.
Grannies catching pneumonia. Mind-boggling bills for daring to stay as warm in our Gaia-green 21st century as once we lived in the cheap-power era of the 20th century. Businesses being pushed to the wall by soaring overheads. Baseload coal-fired power stations being shut — blown up, even — without reliable substitute sources of electricity developed or available.
Madness, right? Not according to AGL, which is putting a small part of its subsidy-distorted windfall profits into a nauseatingly smug ad campaign, “Are you With Us?”
The late aunt of our correspondent above might have seen one or two of them and perhaps readers have seen them as well. If not, watch the clip below. People are dying and many business owners suffering, but those who distort, misrepresent and omit are doing very nicely, thank you.
If you appreciate irony, notice the first words out of the actor’s mouth: “Let’s be honest”. As if.
So why is electricity so outrageously costly? Ross Cameron provides a short, sharp explanation.
The take-away quote from Cameron’s analysis: “Malcolm Turnbull is lying to the Australian people if he says he wants to protect us from electricity prices when he is the principle agent ratcheting them up.”
Well, yes, the lips of Malcolm Turnbull, congenital lawyer, are indeed moving in the clip below, in which he explains how using energy to pump water uphill will lead to cheaper energy and a more stable grid when it is allowed to run downhill again.
Mind you, the Prime Minister is a recent convert to the cause of cheap power. Until recently, as Ross Cameron noted, he was an ardent and long-standing advocate for the exact opposite.
The absurdity of Australia’s situation — a massive energy exporter which cannot keep its own lights on — inspired reader William York to channel Banjo Patterson:
Malcolm at the Overflow
I had written him a letter that I had for want of better
Knowledge sent to where I’d met him by the Harbour years ago.
He was banking when I knew him
So I sent an Ozmail to him
Just on spec addressed to – Malcolm@theoverflow.
And an answer came directed from a place quite unexpected
And I think it came from somewhere near a Snowy hydro site
T’was a colleague who wrote it
and verbatim I will quote it
“Malcolm’s walking down a tunnel and he’s looking for some light”.
Take the case of Hazelwood where the thought was to do good
By shutting down this mighty source of power
But when the wind don’t blow
Where is this new hy-dro
And will a battery last the next half-hour?
With innovation and agility there’s a matching liability
When politicians pick a winner then someone’s bound to lose
But to add to this disgrace
They handicap the race
And then blame all the others when disaster heads the news.
But it comes as no surprise that when prices start to rise
The meters, poles and wires get all the blame
For the pollies all ignore
The fundamental flaw
Their messing with the rules has changed the game.