The sub-heading explains: ‘As power prices continue to surge, families now told: Get ready for blackouts‘.
The main villains, we’re told, are a combination of power companies and green energy schemes – at least that’s a view attributed to Australia’s chief competition and consumer protection regulator, Rod Simms, who appears to see more blackouts as inevitable in the battle to rein in price rises: ‘You may find your power is out a bit more.’
The newspaper devotes a double-page spread inside and an editorial to the story. Clearly the editors know that what their Page 1 splash story calls ‘raging energy bills’ are the weekend BBQ and office water cooler conversation fodder of current times, and not a happy one!
Is this really the true path?
Strange, however, to conclude as they do (apparently echoing Rod Simms’ musings) that the solutions lie in an electricity grid that is simultaneously more frequently blacked out and more ‘black’ i.e. accept more system down times and undermine green energy schemes such as feed-in tariffs for home solar generation.
The Telegraph’s editorial call that ‘the power needs to switch back to consumers’ sounds great, but the whole story says little or nothing about how this can happen in real terms. Like encouraging more home and community based clean energy generation, not less; like ensuring consumers have real-time data about their energy use, not three-monthly paper bills from their utilities; like being able to easily share and compare their data and saving tips with others; like opening up competition in the energy services sector to break the historic dominance of power companies.
Beware allure of short-term fixes
Is it a false economy to see more blackouts and blacker energy as anything more than band-aid solutions? Shouldn’t we be transforming the energy sector away from overemphasis on the supply side of the meter and towards more action on the consumer side, including making energy saving and time of use management higher priorities? And isn’t encouraging innovative new energy services businesses and community-based networks – which aren’t hugely invested in the traditional supply-side of the power industry – a challenge worthy of a competition csar and a crusading newspaper?
Wattwatchers is looking forward to splash headlines like ‘GREEN AGES’ and ‘CONSUMER GRID’, and we’re working on tools to make the Energy Information Age an empowering reality for all energy users. What’s your vision for business and community solutions to deliver a better energy future?