Withering away of government green energy sabotaging policies?

In the Age this morning the Royce Millar/Adam Morton tandem which was predictably lambasting the Baillieu Government funder the headline Green rating backflip.
The Baillieu Government is testing the water in suggesting it may remove the 6 Star housing code that requires very costly – $5000 according to the Productivity Commission – features for housing to reduce energy use. The impost is confined to new houses and therefore is on those who can less afford to pay it. And nationwide, given annual new housing of 90,000, the costs of the measure amount to over $4.5 billion.
A survey the Age is running shows that three quarters of respondents want to retain it. Another example of the bien pensants, most of whom already own their home, indulging their preferences at the cost of others.
The Millar-Morton duo dredge up friendly government and renewable industry financed lobby groups to bag the proposal. One even calls it ludicrous to think people can make their own decisions on energy changes – heaven only knows why he thinks people should be free to choose their own car purchase, still less their own government.
The Victorian measure comes in the wake of the state finally abandoning its very own 20 per cent renewable target and easing its way into contemplating more coal based power generation. And we have seen the O’Farrell Government edging away from green indulgences with calls for abandonment of the national Renewable Energy Target and dramatic action by the Newman Government in walking away from the extravagant folly that is subsidised large scale photovoltaic plants.
Even before the carbon tax is repealed, a pattern is underway of removing all the cost imposing renewable measures and many of the regulatory requirements ostensibly targeted at carbon dioxide emissions. Christine Milne must be pleased that the only business support for such measures is by firms that are oh so 20th Century!

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44 Responses to Withering away of government green energy sabotaging policies?

  1. H B Bear

    Alternative Technology Association chief Ian Porter said it was ”ludicrous” to think consumers could make their own energy efficiency assessments.

    If only these Green zealots were as keen on earning me an income as telling me how I am required to spend it.

    If all these mandatory green imposts lowered electricity and other household running costs you would expect them to be capitalised into the value of the house at the time of sale. I expect they aren’t – hence the need to seek government intervention.

    Once Cambell Newman shows there is no voter backlash as dismantling these green protection rackets I expect even softies like Red Ted will have a go.

  2. Gab

    Baillieau is Lucy just before she takes the football away from Snoopy. Again and again and again. We’ve got to stop being like Snoopy.

  3. It’s Charlie Brown she took the football away from, Gab.

  4. Chris

    I wonder what the pay off time is in reduced heating/cooling costs, especially with electricity prices going up so fast? You see people online complain about >$1000 quarterly electricity bills driven by a/c requirements because their houses are so poorly designed and built.

    I went through the building thing a couple of years ago and after talking to quite a few builders got the impression that a lot of their clients would quite happily install no insulation their house if it meant they could get a nicer kitchen. People like me asking to put in extra insulation and double glazed windows were a real rarity.

  5. C.L.

    Management of The Most Important Social And Economic Issue Of Our Time going well.

    LOL-worthy:

    ‘’Since the initial cuts were announced a few weeks ago, staff morale has hit rock bottom,’’ she said.

    ‘’Many staff are voting with their feet, moving to other agencies or leaving the service completely.

    ‘’They are passionate about contributing to one of the nation’s most pressing issues, but they are growing tired of their increasingly hostile and uncertain environment.’’

  6. Tiddly Pom

    “Even before the carbon tax is repealed, a pattern is underway of removing all the cost imposing renewable measures and many of the regulatory requirements ostensibly targeted at carbon dioxide emissions.”

    Don’t forget though that a good part of the pressure for removing the regs and other support for renewable energy is precisely that there is an unrepealed carbon tax. That is, the inconsistency of instituting what is allegedly an over-arching market mechanism to reduce emissions, with the continuing existence of the vast range of pre-existing measures to the same end, which are not only duplicatory and ineffective, but often by distorting the market inconsistent in principle with a market mechanism for emission reduction. The mechanics of pursuing the current policy direction, not changing it fundamentally.

    Don’t get me wrong, I support getting rid of the carbon tax as well as the rest of the rubbish. Just saying that a move to water down 6 star housing codes and subsidisation of photo-voltaics is not necessarily related to a widespread recognition that the whole renewable energy/AGW policy direction is the scam and the shonk many of us think it is.

  7. Sleetmute

    I saw that line as well about the Alternative Technology Association guy saying it was “ludicrous” to think that consumers could make their own energy efficient assessments – surely we are entering the realm of self-parody now.

    The only case for government intervention in mandating such standards is to overcome market failures – such as principal-agent problems between landlords and tenants that lead to the installation of inefficient appliances and lack of insulation. But here we are talking about people choosing and paying for their own home. If they don’t think it’s worth spending $5k up front on solar panels or water tanks (what a great investment that’s been!), that’s a matter for them.

  8. Anderson

    90,000 houses at $5,000 each is $450 million, not $4.5 billion

  9. brc

    Once Cambell Newman shows there is no voter backlash as dismantling these green protection rackets I expect even softies like Red Ted will have a go.

    I’ll go further than that. Once they realise Newman is even more popular than before for dismantling green racketeering schemes, they other softies will give it a go. In a time of spiralling government debt, chopping rubbish like this actually resonates through to the voters.

    Maybe it will even trickle all the way back to Abbott and the direct action scheme, and he might have the chops to neuter it as an election promise.

    As for the OP – the hopefully-cancelled solar dawn project was solar thermal, not photovoltaic IIRC.

  10. Alan Moran

    Anderson,
    Oops. You are right it is $450 million per year for new houses. (Actually somewhat more since the cost does not include appartments)

  11. Chris

    Sleetmute – I don’t think things that are easily added/modified afterward like solar panels or water tanks should be included in efficiency ratings of new houses. But other things which are hard or expensive to retrofit (orientation of house, sarking, wall type & insulation etc) should.

    Its reasonably hard for a lay person to judge the energy efficiency of a house just by looking at it without some training or quite a bit of background research. Almost impossible for renters who aren’t going to be allowed or have the time to investigate even basic things like insulation levels.

  12. Alan Moran

    Chris ,

    Almost all features of a house, even orientation, involve trade-offs (with orientation it is often aesthetics versus energy efficiency). If we are to deny lay-persons the opportunity to make these choices with houses must we not also do so with food (taste versus nutrition, versus price etc.) and cars (why should not all people be required to have the safer brakes, tyres and so on that come standard with a BMW)?

    Also there is some evidence to show that houses built for rent have more energy saving features than those built for owner-occupation. This is because the former are features that renters value while owner occupiers are often cash constrained and consider retro-fitting is a better choice for their circumstances.

  13. If you increase requirements for housing it will do little to the price ($5000 is about 1% of average price and price fluctuations in the market are this high on a monthly basis if the market is active). The price is flexible and according to what people will pay with the land component of the price very flexible.

  14. thefrollickingmole

    Part of the problem i have is that I wouldnt trust one of the “green consultants” anyway.

    Whereas Id be happy to get a quote on things like glazing, house siting etc, I wouldnt trust a religious fanatc (green) to do it for me.

  15. Chris

    Alan – do you have a reference to the research about a houses for rent having more energy saving features? I’ve had friends in some rental shockers (eg no ceiling insulation in a Canberra). But its the sort of thing that renters find really hard to check – no real estate agent is going to allow you to climb in the roof space to try to see how much wall insulation there is for example).

    I think the market would be more responsive to demand if people renting out houses had to provide information on how energy efficient their houses were so renters could easily make informed decisions. At the moment its very hit and miss.

    I’d be more inclined to agree that people should be given more choice in what they want to build as long as we remove subsidies over residential electricity prices. But political restrictions will stop that from ever happening and there is huge pressure to artificially keep residential electricity prices down.

    Allow electricity retailers to implement flexible time of use tariffs and you’ll see home owners/builders get a lot more interested in energy efficiency because their a/c systems cost $100/hour to run during peak periods. Or vote in a government to revert the changes ;-)

  16. Alan Moran

    Chris,

    It is an area in which I used to have some professional expertise. Surveys were available of housing in the DC area, though doubtless other surveys might show different results.

    You may have seen that the courageous Victorian Premier has just bowed to the pressure from The Age and announced 6 Star is here to stay. It is just that he knows best how to meet the consumer’s needs

  17. dover_beach

    We’ve got to stop being like Snoopy.

    Never!

  18. Sleetmute

    Chris, I’m not sure what subsidies for residential electricity prices you are referring to. Retail tariffs are fairly cost-reflective in an overall sense across the eastern States. I think you are referring to the current lack of time-of-use (ToU) pricing for most small customers. The Victorian Government has indicated it will lift the moratorium on ToU tariffs next year, which makes sense given the smart meter roll out currently underway. In other States, lack of ToU pricing is mainly a function of the lack of ToU metering. Such meters are not cheap to roll out and in most cases the benefits of doing so don’t exceed the costs.

  19. Gab

    We’ve got to stop being like Snoopy.

    Never!

    Quite so.

  20. Bruce

    “we have seen the O’Farrell Government edging away from green indulgences”

    To give him credit O’Farrell tried to cut solar feed in tariff, but a horde of voters screamed blue murder and waved lawyers at him. So we’re stuck paying $600/MWh for those types who put panels on their roofs. Forever.

    Rent seeking. Sigh.

  21. cohenite

    Currently QLDers have to fill this form in when they sell their house.

    This adds about $1500 per sale to the vendor’s cost. Various idiots have noted this is a small % of the total amounts of a house sale. But this misses the point; the $1500 has no purpose other than satisfying the egoes of green fuckwits. It is akin to walking down the street and giving $1500 to one of those Koalas with buckets.

    It is a principle thing. A principle which is obviously missing in NSW which has its own ‘sustainability’ house requirements costing vendors up to $1.9 billion.

  22. cohenite
    Is that QLD form current because it mentions watering systems which would be illegal to use in the south east corner?

  23. cohenite

    Is that QLD form current because it mentions watering systems which would be illegal to use in the south east corner?

    Great question; I’d ask Mr Anna Bligh while he still is in a position to answer it.

  24. brc

    @cohenite the sustainability form has gotten the Campbell Newman treatment. It won’t be bothering Queenslanders any more.

    I love how people throw around ‘oh $5000 isn’t much to add to a house price’.

    $5000 is $5000 no matter whether it is added to a $100 bill or a $50,000 bill.

    Why, it’s almost as if you could go around smashing windows to stimulate the economy, as long as the replacement window was less than $5,000.

    Spending an extra $5,000 on an efficient turbo diesel or hybrid usually doesn’t pay itself back for a long time in a vehicle, if ever. Even if you saved $100/yr in energy costs by doing $5,000 worth of ‘eco work’, it’s still a 50 year payback.

  25. brc

    @Alan – if you ever come across a solar FIT supporter, ask them if they agree that an extra fuel tax should be added to all fuels, which is paid back per-km to people who purchase a fuel-efficient BMW or Mercedes.

    Then ask them how that is any different to an over-priced Solar FIT. I guarantee either *crickets* or ‘that’s different, because it just is.’

  26. Forester

    How I or anyone else build my house really has nothing to do with anyone else, it really is as simple as that. Just piss off!

    I like to live in quaint old parts of town in an old house and found an area with a covenant placed by council (or the developer) to prevent a dual occupancy or (in my opinion) an ugly bright orange modified container built next to me.

    We already have a way to buy what we want and protect our investment.

    And if you don’t know what you want, why should I have to pay for someone to tell you? Get your own wallet out!

  27. Steve of Ferny Hills

    In terms of housing affordability $5k is nothing. When we built our house 18 years ago on what was then Brisbanes’s outskirts, the land component was approximately one third of the total cost. Today on BNE’s outskirts (Burpengary for example), land is approximately two thirds of the total cost of building a new home. Why is that?

  28. Toxic

    You may have seen that the courageous Victorian Premier has just bowed to the pressure from The Age and announced 6 Star is here to stay.

    Ugh… why do I always get my hopes up?

  29. Gab

    You may have seen that the courageous Victorian Premier has just bowed to the pressure from The Age and announced 6 Star is here to stay.

    What did I say about Lucy and the football and Snoopy Charlie Brown this morning?! Well, I didn’t buy it this time. Thanks, Ted, for being predictable.

  30. Rabz

    Thanks, Ted, for being predictable.

    The libs need to inject a bit of unpredictability back into the whole governing thang and sack baillieu forthwith. Especially as a warning to o’barrell – that is, pull your finger out and start slashing and burning or you’re next.

    o’barrell’s behaviour is particularly unacceptable given the guy’s unprecedented mandate for sweeping change.

    Campbell’s running his own race and seems fine, so far…

  31. wreckage

    O’Barrell got caught in contracts. What can you do if you’re against boondoggles but also against using the power of the State to walk away from contracts?

    Walk away, of course. But plenty of people can’t see why. The reason is that you need to establish that you will, and repeat until it becomes accepted that it is a normal risk of leeching tax dollars.

  32. Bruce

    O’Farrell had this equation:

    Red pill: maintain contracts, punters pay in power bills (quick, blame ALP!)
    Blue pill: break contracts, state pays

    Pick red pill or blue pill…

  33. wreckage

    Blue pill: state pays, plus penalties, which all come out of taxes, which punters pay.

  34. Rabz

    Oh, FFS.

    There are a myriad of other fundamental actions o’barrell must immediately take to try and salvage the NSW economy.

    There’s a shedload of useless bureaucrats that could be sacked, for starters – the NSW public service is one of the ten largest ‘employers’ in that state.

    And get rid of the bloody sniffer dogs, FFS. Has there ever been a more absurd example of an inexcusable misallocation of taxpayers’ resources?

    He’s a softcock, but ultimately I expected no better. At least those stupid laybore gangsters are history.

  35. Chris

    Alan – seems pretty stupid Ballieu to immediately backdown on the 6* rating. Its not like they could not have predicted there would be lots of opposition to the move. So why propose it in the first place if they weren’t willing to follow through? Maybe just making noises that some of their supporters like to hear but never intending to actually do anything?

    Sleetmute – lifting the moratorium on the TOU tariffs is a good start. But even TOU tariffs (let alone normal ones) are heavily regulated. Why not just let the retailers, distributors and generators charge what they believe is reasonable based on demand? It allows the regulator to keep electricity prices artificially low.

  36. Chris

    cohenite – why would it cost $1500 to fill out that form? Seems like something you could fill out in about 5-10 minutes.

  37. cohenite

    Chris, like every aspect of the AGW scam, you need an ‘expert’ to sign off on the form; and that costs money.

  38. Chris

    cohenite – wow, must be a real shortage of people to do the assessment then. When I sold my house in Canberra I had to have an energy rating for the house done which involved someone coming out, doing various measurements inside and out, putting the data into a computer model and generating a report. They also did a pest and general building report (so buyers don’t all have to do their individual building reports). All that for about half the $1500 you say it costs in Queensland.

  39. cohenite

    The estimate of $1500 is from here.

    Estimates in NSW are similar to your Canberra experience. That is, up to about $800.

    Of course there is another ‘cost’ to this; which is if the vendor’s house does not conform to the green standards of what is acceptable in a fucking ‘sustainable’ sense, and a ‘bad’ report results then the value of the house may fall, as this report predicts.

  40. Chris

    cohenite – price differences after the introduction of reports are just due to buyers making more informed decisions though. Surely that’s a good thing? If people didn’t care about energy efficiency standards of a house (as opposed to not being able to measure what they are easily) then there would be no price difference.

    And I think its simplistic to just say the value of the house may fall. It may also increase if it is an energy efficient one and the potential buyers care about that.

  41. Forester

    price differences after the introduction of reports are just due to buyers making more informed decisions though.

    Any price difference is due to some poor sap duped into thinking he’s saved the ‘vironment.

    And what about the emissions from army of assessors and their teachers? And on top of that you have to add a cut of the emissions ‘embedded’ in the taxes on employees in value added industries to pay for it. And what for! To reduce the temperature in 2100 buy some unmeasurable amount.

    The worst part is I am forrced to pay for this lurk!

    Bring on November 2013!

  42. Chris

    Any price difference is due to some poor sap duped into thinking he’s saved the ‘vironment.

    Or a more simple pragmatic view of wanting to save money. You don’t help the environment by just buying a environmentally friendly house.

    But significantly reduced heating/cooling/water requirements mean much lower utility bills. And there are plenty of people out there who are complaining about electricity/water/gas prices. Many more I’d argue than complain about the state of the environment.

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