Energy costs continue to be a major inhibitor for profitability for a lot of businesses and is one of the most important issues for regional NSW.
The debate about how to fix the issue has been stuck on whether we should be developing more coal generated electricity in preference to renewables.
However, as explained on page 17, the debate is not addressing the core causes for the high cost, that being the big increases in network charges of recent years.
The current political debate also fails to address the advancements in technology and the ability that now exist to open the market up to more energy generators.
One option is to look at how we can make the market more attractive, and adjust legislation, so more energy can be produced closer to where it is needed.
There are some communities already doing this, and they’re doing it without government subsidies, unlike a lot of the big multi-national projects, which begs the question of why the hell is our government spending tax dollars on propping up these foreign companies when Australians are already proving they can generate electricity without the hand-outs?
At a state level, the legislation is still stuck in the days when we weren’t thinking about feeding energy back into the grid, because it used to be state-owned from start to finish.
This has meant while we’ve been asleep at the wheel, foreign investors have snuck in and bought control of the sub station access points and can therefore clip the ticket as we feed energy back into the grid.
The catch with that is it eats into potential profits that local communities could have benefited from if they were to build their own energy generation infrastructure.
With micro grids, these communities can deliver cheap energy to their immediate region. And as with Lockhart, a battery system also allows surplus energy to be stored and then released onto the main grid strategically.
The delivery of the energy might still bottleneck on its way to big metropolitan centres, as the delivery “pipeline” is only so big, but at least the regional community will have already drawn its energy needs at lower cost.
If local councils could set up their own energy generation infrastructure, then sell surplus energy back into the grid to help recover the cost across a 10 to 15 year period, then down the track they would also have a new income stream.