Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. By Bentleigh electorate - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, link

Is Private Renewable Energy Investment Faltering in Australia?

Essay by Eric Worrall

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has resurrected the state electricity commission, to develop renewable opportunities and facilitate a phaseout of coal by 2035.

‘Shocked’: Andrews nationalises electricity

Angela Macdonald-SmithPatrick Durkin and Colin Packham
Oct 20, 2022 – 11.12am

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ plan to “bring back” the government-owned State Electricity Commission to reverse the decades-long privatisation of Australia’s energy market will chill private investment and hurt ordinary investors and workers, the CEOs of Woodside Energy, Alinta Energy and Australian Energy Council warn.

The state Labor government said it would spend $1 billion to develop its own renewable energy assets, as it announced tough new emissions targets that are likely to end coal power generation in the state by 2035 – earlier than expected. The state would invest directly to control renewable energy projects, including wind and solar, with a focus expected to be on its ambitious offshore wind targets.

The premier said that the revived State Electricity Commission (SEC) would “consider all options” including becoming a state-run energy retailer and would have a controlling stake in new energy projects “with the balance of funding invested through like-minded companies such as industry super funds who are focused on an equitable future for Victorians”.

The new targets were welcomed by environmentalists and unions but Jeff Dimery, CEO of Alinta Energy which owns the Loy Yang B coal power station in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley, which was scheduled to close in 2047, said the move would force the early retirement of its coal power station and cost jobs, leaving his employees “shocked”.

Read more (paywalled):

Dan Andrews is the premier who infamously ordered police to open fire on unarmed protestors in 2021 during a Covid lockdown protest.

The renewable energy target is absurd – Victoria is windy but doesn’t see a lot of sun. The wind isn’t that reliable – Victoria regularly enjoys periods of days or even weeks with very little wind, at all times of the year.

So the question is, why did Dan Andrews feel he had to intervene with direct state investment? Is this just a political stunt, to appease unions? Or is he having trouble attracting the level of private investment he wants?

On the surface renewable investment looks good – around $860 million spent last financial year in Victoria. But that is nowhere near enough to achieve Victoria’s ambitious renewable targets.

Dan Andrews is facing election on 26th November, so this could just be a stunt, a ploy to firm up support from union workers who miss the old days, when state government energy enterprises run by managers appointed by union supported politicians granted easy pay rises to public sector workers.

Or it could mean something else. In this period of rising interest rates, and a likely imminent recession, people get a lot more wary of putting money into new business ventures. And renewable energy tariffs are not immune to government tinkering when governments run short of money, as Spanish investors discovered in 2010. Victorians have already had a taste of arbitrary government tariff tinkering, with a significant cut to rooftop solar feedin tariffs back in July.

I guess time will tell.

Correction (EW): h/t High Treason – The election is 26th November, not 2nd November.

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Ron Long
October 20, 2022 6:10 pm

Nationalize? Is that the direction of energy in Australia? Dig up Chavez and ask him how that worked out for Venezuela. OK, it worked out great for him and his family, but everyone else, not so much.

Reply to  Ron Long
October 21, 2022 2:32 am

when aus had state run power water and transport it worked WELL the govt flogged it all off cheap saying private would be better n cheaper and since then?
every single service has cost masses more profits huge and all going OS jobs offshored wherever possible and WE who Paid for the infrastructure via taxes LOSE and keep losing, services are costly and WORSE than they were decades ago

Reply to  ozspeaksup
October 21, 2022 3:17 pm

QLD still own some of the power generation and they are going ‘green’ as well. Not quite nationalising it though. Itd be different if the govt was going to build something that was going to actually fix high energy prices, but solar and wind aren’t it.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
October 22, 2022 10:21 am

Your memory does not seem to match the data.

Reply to  Ron Long
October 21, 2022 7:28 am

I forget who, but someone said:

“Put the government in charge of the Sahara and in 5 years there will be a shortage of sand”.

Reply to  Fraizer
October 21, 2022 12:47 pm

‘ I forget who, but someone said:
“Put the government in charge of the Sahara and in 5 years there will be a shortage of sand”. ‘

5 years?
Decidedly optimistic.

New UK Tory PM will nationalise crime.
Then crime won’t pay.


October 20, 2022 6:10 pm

Fortunately, nothing is permanent, especially drought, so it seems. Hopefully, more than a few stupid politicians get washed away.

October 20, 2022 6:14 pm

“As a dog returneth to its vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly”.

October 20, 2022 6:32 pm

Have no problem with Victoria phasing out coal by 2035 as long as we disconnect them from the national grid to stop them bludging off our coal and gas generation.

Reply to  Simonsays
October 24, 2022 3:10 pm

A lot of us here in Nevada want to disconnect California from our grid before they blackout state-wide.

High Treason
October 20, 2022 6:33 pm

26th of November is the Victorian election. We see the old fake polls saying Dictator Dan will get re elected. You can bet there will be some slimy and dodgy stuff happening.
Breaking news from Victoria though-still waiting for more details:- Victorian police have arrested Mike Holt in Queensland for an “offence” that did not occur in Victoria-a flagrant violation of state law. The “crime” itself is also dubious. More details as they emerge.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 20, 2022 7:06 pm

Unfortunately there is a significant fraction of the population who have been conditioned to believe that government is always right and must never be questioned.

Reply to  MarkW
October 21, 2022 4:09 am

This ^

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 20, 2022 7:12 pm

Biggest issue is a piss weak opposition who are unable to hold the current government to account and present clear policy alternatives.

Reply to  Martin
October 20, 2022 7:51 pm

Opposition is always a difficult role, media do not have much interest and oppositions do not have the resources and portfolios of government as political platforms.

In Victoria the Labor Government has effective control of all State Government Departments with mates appointed to senior positions adding to the traditional union stronghold of government department employees, used to be called public servants.

And with support in the Parliament from upper and lower house members who are not Labor Party members reinforcing the power base, example the legislation that no longer requires Parliament to approve emergency powers and lockdowns imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another point is lack of government funding to government watchdogs, the Corruption Commissioner recently released a report that was not complimentary about the Labor State Government but the Commissioner said there were insufficient funds to pursue matters further.

Add to this Labor’s national network of media management departments and spin doctors, very clever people, relentless negativity against political opponents and including deceptive media releases a specialty. NSW Labor perfected this system after 1976 of managing media that replaced the system of press secretaries in every cabinet minister’s office. The Hawke Labor Federal Government was first to follow the NSW State media management from 1983.

Reply to  Martin
October 21, 2022 2:35 am

sadly thats true;-(

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 21, 2022 2:35 am

yeah unbelievable how many in my town will support the mongrel
that said a LOT more wont be especially the newbies who fled here to escape Melbournes hysteria, and being rural we’re heavy to the libs nats n indys

Old Ranga
October 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Wait till the blackouts start (as they used to under the old SEC) and guess who’ll bear the blame.

Reply to  Old Ranga
October 20, 2022 7:08 pm

They will blame the capitalists and agents of dissent who have sabotaged their efforts. The obvious solution will be to start opening re-education camps and gulags for the really hard core.

Last edited 7 months ago by MarkW
Reply to  Old Ranga
October 20, 2022 7:59 pm

In NSW the State Electricity Commission was closed down based on decades of unionist based poor work practises, the Railway Workshops at Chullora in Sydney were also closed and the work put out to private sector tender. The SEC assets were taken over by State owned private companies. The Coalition made those changes while in government. The following Labor State Government was 16 years in office and after about 10 years decided to sell and privatise the electricity assets. The independent valuation was $12-16 billion, the sales realised just under $6 billion. After debt owed by the private companies was repaid with interest all that was left was about $800 million. Debt used to pay extra dividend to the State Government to improve budget bottom lines.

By the way, the Chullora Railway Workshops were a member of the Bankstown District employers group, the managers reported long before the decision to close the operation down that daily absenteeism was 6 out of every 10 employees on sick leave or other reason.

October 20, 2022 7:04 pm

What is it about socialists and their unshakable conviction that no matter what the industry, government can run it better.

Reply to  MarkW
October 20, 2022 8:03 pm

In the Australian Labor Party example the party is controlled and managed by the Union Movement, but always denied, and therefore unionism is a major factor and poor work practises more often than not.

As the three last to close down motor vehicle industry companies stated, Toyota Australia’s CEO in particular, industrial relations legislation (Fair Work Australia) and poor work practises was a major reason for the head office decisions to stop manufacturing in Australia, but only one of a list of reasons.

Campsie Fellow
Reply to  Dennis
October 21, 2022 2:51 am

Is ‘practise’; a noun in Australia? It could be. After all, Americans use ‘practice’ as a verb.

Reply to  MarkW
October 21, 2022 2:37 am

they run it similarly BUT profits stay home not offshore with bugger all taxes paid

Reply to  ozspeaksup
October 21, 2022 10:18 am

What profits? When governments run things, they lose money hand over fist.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
October 22, 2022 10:24 am

BTW, actual, real world evidence, demonstrates that governments NEVER run things as well as the private sector does.
Government always puts politics ahead of responsibility.

Dave Fair
October 20, 2022 7:13 pm

Yep, the governmental takeover of the bulk power system will solve all of its problems. This includes, along with direct governmental wasteful funding, “with the balance of funding invested through like-minded companies such as industry super funds who are focused on an equitable future for Victorians”. I’m sure there are many companies focusing on equitable futures. The socialist misreading of human nature is breathtaking.

October 20, 2022 7:44 pm

If this miserable rascal truly did order police to fire on unarmed protestors he should be in jail. What the hell is he doing running around free much less still in office.

Reply to  Bob
October 20, 2022 8:33 pm

Yep, he did it. Rubber bullets, (or whatever they are now), fired at retreating protestors.

He’s not in jail but the areas that he’s free to walk, especially alone or without a security detail, are diminishing. One day, he’ll find a set of stairs that he just won’t get up from. Probably after another drunken night with the wrong young lady, (again).

John Oliver
October 20, 2022 7:46 pm

Australia ,Uk, EU ,The Biden in the US- I am more convinced than ever that these left green energy, “ equity obsessed” woke politicians and their supporters are taking us to the brink of disaster.
Even if people came to their senses soon and through these people out of office; the portfolio loss is going to be huge. We are talking about the loss of trillions of $ representing a life time of earning of hundreds of millions of people either directly or indirectly.

October 20, 2022 8:10 pm

So the question is, why did Dan Andrews feel he had to intervene with direct state investment? 

Everyone in government knows that “renewable” energy is free and also know that the current energy providers are rorting the system. The only option is to provide a socialist alternative that is not in it for the profits.

Do you think Victoria’s Energy Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, could explain the ins and out of the FCAS, NSCAS and SRAS market in Australia? Explain the elements of each group and the typically range of bids as well as which generator is getting what and who is paying for it. Do you think Lily has any idea when Victoria will need synchronous condensers like South Australia now has?

In case you are wondering about Lily’s educational qualification for the energy portfolio, she has an arts degree. And knows for certain that “renewable” energy is free, otherwise it would not be “renewable”.

The sad part about Victoria is that the Liberal alternative is aiming to TRANSITION faster.

Victoria is heading for the dark days of the Kirner years and there is no Jeff Kennett in the opposition working out how the mess can be recovered. You can only sell valuable assets once.

Reply to  RickWill
October 20, 2022 9:44 pm

Does anybody find it alarming, that he is suggesting Pension Funds invest in these speculative ventures?

Reply to  davidf
October 20, 2022 10:57 pm

I don’t think it’s a suggestion, I believe that superannuation funds have invested heavily in renewables in Australia. I suspect that’s why they’re pushing renewables so hard, they are so deeply entrenched that it’s going to be hard for them to back out. It isn’t just alarming, it’s criminal.

Reply to  Megs
October 20, 2022 11:04 pm

Yes, class action claiming breech of Fiduciary duty – pass the popcorn!!

Reply to  davidf
October 21, 2022 2:27 pm

Who will ultimately pay the fine?

From my U.S. armchair, I don’t know enough about the situation in Oz, but would such a suit be like suing yourself? I dunno.

Reply to  davidf
October 21, 2022 3:11 pm

Pension funds are significant investors in the scam and the main reason it is so strongly supported.

Australia has a Federal government wealth fund that is heavily into the scam. That means every employee in the Federal government has an interest in subsidies (legitimised theft) for “renewables” continuing. Same for The Australian Unions that support the Labor government.

All any individual can do against these odds is to ensure they can be independent of gas and electricity supply. That is a reasonable proposition for most home owners on mainland Australia.

Individuals have to work out ways of limiting government sanctioned theft.

I doubt electric cars will get traction in Australia – pun intended. They are simply impractical for most Australians. If they get reasonable global penetration then that might lower demand for fuel and prices retreat but battery supply will likely end battery cars.

Reply to  davidf
October 22, 2022 10:26 am

It’s a suggestion now, it won’t be long until such “investments” become mandatory.

October 20, 2022 8:10 pm

My son is a builder and we often discuss the present severe shortage of trades people and even unskilled labour the building and construction industry is experiencing. And that from the 1990s TAFE Colleges (State Governments) were run down with closures and general cutting back of services and facilities. Governments decided that university graduates were preferable for future needs.

The point being how will the present Federal and State governments achieve the substantial increase in wind turbine and solar installations, plus firming back up equipment and transmission lines to main grid, plus a new grid system to make wind and solar electricity transmission more efficient by 2030, or even 2050? Where will the trades people and labourers come from, and materials?

Another example of elected woke fools who mostly have no business experience, no relevant qualifications but too often adopt the attitude of zealots.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 20, 2022 10:40 pm

Probably, the Trade Union Royal Commission into governance and corruption, funding not extended to enable the inquiries to reach conclusion by the Turnbull Coalition Government, discovered from witnesses that union owned labour hire companies imported foreign workers on a Labor Government modified 457 Visa (changed to make recruitment of foreign workers easier to achieve), they were paid below award wages.

Chiquita Mushrooms WA was one of the client businesses named.

Reply to  Dennis
October 20, 2022 8:38 pm

Import them from a third world country. Welding with newspaper as a shield, safety boots with open toes. Working from heights with no protection the norm. And a little asbestos never hurt anyone.

What could go wrong? This is Vicdansistan, welcome to the new less bright future.

One thing for sure, you won’t need to be an electrician to change a light bulb, not after the power goes out.

Reply to  Eng_Ian
October 20, 2022 10:43 pm

People might laugh but I once watched an “electrician” at a Austrade exhibition in Manila, Philippines, connecting a machine using bare hands to hold electrical wires, and as he connected the last wire the electric motor started.

Last edited 7 months ago by Dennis
Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Dennis
October 20, 2022 8:52 pm

While reading this with one ear on the radio, in half an hour the Melbourne traffic report announced
– a busy road blocked by a high truck under a low bridge, clearly marked
– a major freeways blocked because an end loader fell off a truck
– another very busy highway blocked by a high truck meeting the tunnel roof
These are part of the stupidity of Aussie tradies who are planned for the renewal of Victoria’s electricity system by wrecking one that was world class. Some cannot even read the big letters on big road signs. For the harm they cause by blocked roads, there should be mandatory jail terms. Geoff S

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 21, 2022 2:37 am

Messy. But then again, it is a small jar to aim for.

Reply to  Dennis
October 20, 2022 11:22 pm

Major solar installations have been rolling out here in Central West NSW. A project in Wellington in recent years at one point had 550 backpackers working on construction. The unions put forward 15 citations against the developer, among them was due to work that should have been carried out by electricians. The workers in these cases were not made aware of potentially dangerous work practices. Around the same time fruit and vegetable pickers were in short supply as their traditional workers were not available. Some produce was ploughed back into the ground as time ran out before it spoiled.

We have just had a major solar project approved near us that will require around 500 workers during peak build. An additional wind/solar project seeking approval will need 700 workers during peak build. The population of our town is only 2,500. Most of them are elderly, many of them are children. The rest either run farms or already have good jobs. You are right, where will the workforce come from. And more to the point where will they stay. Our town relies on tourism, the renewables industry will kill that off. The soul is be ripped out of regional communities where renewables is being forced on us.

another ian
Reply to  Dennis
October 21, 2022 12:24 am

One of those short comments from an old Reader’s Digest was –

“When everyone in USA has a PhD but the last plumber he’s going to make a fortune”

October 20, 2022 8:28 pm

I think this is a great idea. 100% ‘renewable’ power. /sarc

Let’s hope that it is 100% battery backed.

That way the whole world can see exactly what it costs to build and operate an intermittent generator. And when the battery goes flat and there isn’t enough inflows to match the outflows, then let’s see the users be disconnected.

Surely a 100% ‘renewable’ supplier will be empowered to shed load when the power just isn’t there. Or will they just free load of the carbon based, heavy lifters that the green fools think we can do without?

The biggest problem and we all know it’s coming, the taxpayer will have to cover the costs, especially the government overspends and labour cost extortion associated with a government agency, just like the last SECV. There’s a reason it was privatised, it was costly, inefficient and a unionised site that held the state to ransom.

Reply to  Eng_Ian
October 20, 2022 11:16 pm

It was still a lot cheaper than windmills. The cost of union run windmills is going to be eye wateringly high as well as intermittent.

I would say god help Victorians, but then, they do vote the bloke in.

Chris Hanley
October 20, 2022 8:55 pm

The old state electricity monopoly (SEC) was abolished and electricity generation and distribution was privatized by a conservative government (Jeff Kennett) between 1994 and 1997 with a concomitant fall in retail prices:
“Electricity prices (Australian averages) have declined appreciably over the period 1992 to 1997 during the period of the implementation of electricity restructuring and the development of the NEM from May 1994”.
comment image
Electricity Industry Restructuring: The State of Play (!998).
The Labor Party, the current government, has never accepted that loss of power and union membership revenue.

the balance of funding invested through like-minded companies such as industry super funds who are focused on an equitable future for Victorians.

Those industry super (retirement) funds are largely run by Labor ex-politicians and hacks, if my retirement fund was in one I’d get out as soon as possible and run my own.

Last edited 7 months ago by Chris Hanley
Reply to  Chris Hanley
October 22, 2022 10:32 am

And still our socialists insist that prices were lower back when government ran the power companies.

Chris Hanley
October 20, 2022 9:04 pm

My post has just been sent to the spam bucket.

October 20, 2022 9:07 pm

I remember Melbourne 30 odd years ago in the days of the SEC – after lunchtime on many days here n there in parks and quiet places you could find SEC vans parked with the guys having completed their darg and it being too early to return to the yard.

Reply to  wazz
October 20, 2022 10:47 pm

Many years ago a friend had a key to a council park gate padlock, late weekday afternoons various work vehicles parked there waiting to return to their not far away bases in time to clock off for the day.

One afternoon my friend locked the gate, the panic he described was very amusing.

October 20, 2022 9:51 pm

It should have been made clear that rubber bullets were used against protesters in Melbourne Eric. There is a big difference.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 20, 2022 10:39 pm

Sorry Eric but I maintain that it would have been better to include the word “rubber” given that many non-Australians read this blog and not everyone explores the links within an article.

Reply to  Dnalor50
October 21, 2022 4:15 am

What were they protesting?

October 20, 2022 11:02 pm

The old secv and the generators were overmanned by a factor of at least 2. They were badly run and capex was definitely gold plated.
Since privatisation they have hardly been pots of gold. Despite what Andrews says.

October 21, 2022 2:29 am

its ALL about election.
we would be better off buying loy yang back n running it via govt
xidans idiocy over making it investor driven renewables n batteries
unicorn farts!
same as the billions being proposed to add another link to Tassie and hook up the few birdkillers theyre running.
meanwhile major rural hospitals and affilateds(forced to) are being run down less services than we had as stand alones
forced BY dans crew as improvements
NO- as usual its far worse than we had
stairman dans due another fall please a god

Reply to  ozspeaksup
October 22, 2022 10:20 am

Can you name anything that is owned by government that has been well run?
Only someone totally divorced from reality could think that anything would be better run if it was owned by government.
As to demanding renewables, I believe your government is quite active in that as well.

Tom Abbott
October 21, 2022 4:32 am

From the article: “In this period of rising interest rates, and a likely imminent recession,”

Yes, it looks like recession is here and going to get worse.

Watch for companies starting to cut back and lay people off. That’s next.

And, of course, those laid-off people won’t have any money to spend so the economies spiral lower.

This wouldn’t be happening except for Biden’s war on coal, oil, and natural gas, and his and the Democrats spending of Trillions of dollars which has led to huge inflation, which leads to slowing economic activity, and to a lot of trouble for a lot of people.

If Biden had left everything the way Trump had it set up and had just gone fishing, we would be in great shape right now.

We have to get back to the Trump-era policies. That’s how we will right this ship. November 8, 2022, is just around the corner.

Last edited 7 months ago by Tom Abbott
October 21, 2022 8:05 am

I suspect ultimately this is more about avoiding transparency for the tens of billions in state government subsidies that will be required to support a ‘green’ power supply. No doubt there will be a few big batteries built in Victoria, but we’ve already seen problems in South Australia with that – sued for non performance and part of an renewables energy mix that result in the highest electricity prices in Australia.

The fundamental issues are state debt, reliability of electricity supply, and government control.

Reliability from intermittent renewables is always an issue. As well as the year by year depleting power output from solar, batteries, and yes even wind turbines. Also, as noted, solar is not a big performer in Victoria. Wind turbines in many locations around the world produce power for less than 25% of the time, and in a small state like Victoria large numbers of turbines could be either on or off at more or less the same time.

Does the debt ever have to be paid back or just re-issued at ever higher levels, who buys the debt, what alternative uses could those funds have been put to, why are the details on total subsidies so hard to uncover, are the subsidies perpetual, and what is the inflationary impact of more ‘money from air’. If the true unsubsidised cost was directly passed on to consumers, the green dream would die a quick death.

Finally, this is different to how the old state electricity commissions used to work, they only had one agenda, produce power. This time in Victoria it really is about big government control, virtue signaling, and lack of transparency around debt laden perpetual green subsides.

Reply to  DPP
October 22, 2022 10:40 am

They had two agendas, provide power and keep the unions happy.

Pat Frank
October 22, 2022 4:30 pm

Dan Andrews should be chased through the streets, caught, tried for crimes against humanity, convicted (on grounds glaringly obvious to all), and jailed for life.

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