22 February, 2013

Power Price Rises

It is interesting to see the kerfuffle over Electricity prices today.

One has to feel sorry for the elephant in the room.

Remember the Message from the Premier in March 2012 to direct Treasury to start the legislative changes—across the whole-of-government—required to implement the government's Lower Cost of Living for Families package....

Electricity tariffs and the cost of living. Know your rights.

The Queensland Government has made a commitment to keep the cost of living down for all Queenslanders. As part of delivering on this commitment, the Government has frozen the standard electricity tariff (Tariff 11) for 12 months, starting on 1 July 2012.
In 2012-13, the regulated rate of the standard residential tariff, Tariff 11, will remain the same as the 2011-12 rates, plus the cost of the Commonwealth Government's carbon tax. This is the only cost that will be added to the standard residential tariff and will be shown separately on all Queensland residential electricity bills.
Whilst it is the Government's intent that all residential customers benefit from the freeze to Tariff 11 in 2012-13, some retailers may be charging their market customers above the regulated rate.
Under new legislation, market customers have the right to cancel their contracts or change to a regulated rate if the market rate charged by their retailer is higher than the regulated rate.
Residential customers who are on a market contract also have the right to revert to regulated prices at the end of their contract without paying an early termination fee. It is recommended you contact your retailer to confirm the terms and conditions of your contract and the options available to you.

freezing the standard domestic electricity tariff from 1 July 2012

Contrast the Message from the Premier with the Press Release below.


Treasurer and Minister for Trade
The Honourable Tim Nicholls

Minister for Energy and Water Supply
The Honourable Mark McArdle

Friday, February 22, 2013

Statement from Treasurer Tim Nicholls and Minister for Energy and Water Supply Mark McArdle regarding electricity prices

Mr Nicholls:

“This increase is simply unacceptable. The government is committed to finding ways to reduce it, and the reduce the impact on Queensland families.
“The responsibility for this shocking double-digit price rise lies squarely on Labor’s shoulders.
“The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has been poorly managed by the Gillard Government.
“Network costs, which are controlled by the Gillard Labor Government, represent more than 50 per cent of today’s proposed price increase and, when combined with green schemes and the carbon tax, it’s above 70 per cent.
“Green targets and schemes, like Julia Gillard’s Carbon Tax and Anna Bligh’s excessive solar rebate, have also pushed up the price of electricity.
“Those who can’t afford to put solar panels on their roof are paying the price for Labor’s bungled green schemes.
“Today’s proposed price rise is just another example of how Queenslanders are continuing to pay for the previous State Labor Government’s mismanagement and wasteful spending.
“Under Labor, spending by the State’s electricity businesses was out of control.
“The Newman Government has taken action to reduce the operating and capital costs of Energex and Ergon by $2.1 billion over three years.
“We will continue to reduce costs where we can, but our hands are tied in relation to network costs.
“The Queensland Government does not regulate electricity network costs, the Gillard Labor Government does - today’s proposed increase is out of our control.”
Mr McArdle:
“The Government understands the cost of living pressures that Queensland households are under, and increases like this are just not acceptable.
“The Newman Government will ensure it is reduced to the lowest level possible.
“We will make a submission to the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA), outlining our response, before the final price determination is released on May 31.
“Electricity price rises in recent years have been unsustainable.
“Since being elected last year, the Newman Government has implemented several initiatives to reduce the cost of living for Queensland families.
“We will continue to address cost of living issues, at the same time as growing the four pillars of the economy and reducing debt. The decisions of the past year clearly illustrate that the Newman Government is capable of the task ahead.”


The former Queensland Treasurer - Andrew Fraser has been on twitter reminding the current Government of Section 90 of the Electricity Act.

90 Deciding prices for non-market customers
(1) The Minister must, for each tariff year, decide (a price
determination) the prices, or the methodology for fixing the
prices, that a retail entity may charge its non-market
customers for all or any of the following—
(a) customer retail services;
(b) charges or fees relating to customer retail services;
• charges or fees for late or dishonoured payments
• credit card surcharges for payments for the services
(c) other goods and services prescribed under a regulation.
(2) The price determination must be in the form of a tariff
(3) To remove any doubt, the following is declared for a price
(a) it may be made from time to time and not just once a
(b) a tariff from the tariff schedule for the previous tariff
year may be added to, removed or changed;
(c) it may include network charges;
(d) it can not be made for distribution non-network charges.
(4) The prices, or prices fixed under the methodology, are, for a
retail entity, called the notified prices.
(5) In making a price determination, the pricing entity—
(a) must have regard to all of the following—

(i) the actual costs of making, producing or supplying
the goods or services;
(ii) the effect of the price determination on
competition in the Queensland retail electricity
(iii) if QCA is the pricing entity—any matter the
pricing entity is required by delegation to consider;
(b) may have regard to any other matter the pricing entity
considers relevant.
(6) The pricing entity may decide that the notified prices exclude
one of the following—
(a) GST;
(b) the amount fixed by the pricing entity, or the amount
worked out in a way fixed by the pricing entity, as the
net effect on prices of GST and matters related to the
imposition of GST (the net GST effect).
(7) In this section—
distribution non-network charges means charges of a
distribution entity, approved by the jurisdictional regulator
under the National Electricity (Queensland) Law, that—
(a) are referable to a specific customer or retail entity
request; and
(b) do not include network charges.
Examples of distribution non-network charges—
• a de-energisation or disconnection fee
• a reconnection fee
• a meter test fee
network charges means charges of a distribution entity for—
(a) distribution use of system charges for the use of a shared
supply network of the distribution entity; and

(b) any transmission use of system charges payable by the
distribution entity for the use of a transmission grid to
which the supply network is connected.
For the Minister deciding prices for a particular tariff for the financial
year starting on 1 July 2012, see chapter 14, part 12.

13 February, 2013

Here we go again #ShaleOil

Media Statements


Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection
The Honourable Andrew Powell

Minister for Natural Resources and Mines
The Honourable Andrew Cripps

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Newman Government approves oil shale industry

The creation of new jobs and broad economic benefits are expected, following the Newman Government announcement that it will allow the development of a commercial oil shale industry in Queensland under strict environmental conditions.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister, Andrew Cripps, said the Government’s new oil shale policy sets rigorous environmental controls on the industry and will allow existing oil shale operator QER Limited to progress its trial plant at Gladstone to commercial stage.
“Queensland currently has around 90 per cent of Australia’s known oil shale resources, which are equivalent to approximately 22 billion barrels of oil,” Mr Cripps said.
“As the world supply of conventional crude oil diminishes, there are strong prospects for oil shale to become the next major source of liquid fuel supplies in Australia, and Queensland is well placed to lead that charge.
“The industry has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in the construction phase alone, and provide royalties and other economic benefits for our regional communities and the broader economy, which is great news for Queensland.”
Minister Cripps said the new oil shale policy would:
  • recognise the strategic importance of oil shale to contribute to energy security, and encourage private sector investment in high quality oil shale extracting technologies
  • ensure project proponents must first demonstrate their oil shale technology will meet high environmental standards and community expectations
  • allow, in general, the consideration and development of other oil shale deposits in Queensland, pending thorough environmental assessment on a project by project basis
  • continue the existing 20-year moratorium suspending development of the McFarlane oil shale deposit near Proserpine until 2028
Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, Andrew Powell, emphasised that strict environmental controls would apply to any proposal to mine and process oil shale.
“To date, there has been extremely limited commercial application of oil shale in Australia and overseas,” Mr Powell said.
“That’s why any proposed oil shale development will be subject to detailed environmental assessments on a project-by-project basis. 
“We will consider these proposals on their merits and require a trial stage to determine the feasibility and environmental performance of any unproven technologies.
“The approval process for any oil shale development will demand that operators adopt best practice environmental management techniques and comprehensive monitoring of the process, its emissions, wastes and impact on the community and environmental settings.
“Under the new policy, existing operator Queensland Energy Resources Ltd (QER) will be able to proceed directly to commercial production, but new entrants to the industry will need to prove their oil shale extraction technologies through trials.
“Importantly, both existing and new operators in the oil shale industry will need to prepare full Environmental Impact Statements for their projects.”
Mr Powell said the QER pilot plant near Gladstone has successfully demonstrated the viability of its processing technology.
“The report into the QER plant demonstrated it operated well within the environmental performance requirements of its Environmental Authority issued by my department,” he said.
[ENDS] 13 February 2013
Media contacts:
Minister Cripps: Jane Paterson             0417 281 754      
Minister Powell: Ken Vernon             0431 027 017      
Further Information:
Oil shale is a fine grained sedimentary rock containing organic matter called kerogen. It is a completely different industry and extraction process to shale gas or shale oil.
Hydrocarbons are derived from oil shale that has been mined and then heated in a processing plant.  This process produces vapours which are condensed and converted into synthetic crude oil, and then refined to produce ultra-low sulphur transport fuels.

11 February, 2013

Sustainable & Resilient Water & Sewerage Infrasturcture


A Senate inquiry is underway into a Bill that amends the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to prevent the Commonwealth from handing responsibility for approving proposed actions that significantly impact matters protected under the EPBC Act to a State or Territory.

Sustainable & Resilient Water & Sewerage Infrastructure

Engineering Consultants: Arup have provided some interesting commentary on properly understanding resilience following on from natural disasters.   The rationale: knowing if replacement infrastructure will be any more resilient than that which it replaces.

David Singleton has been asking on twitter: "what do you think are the key planks of ?"

If water and sewerage infrastructure is to be truly sustainable, one needs a way to understand what resilient infrastructure looks like.  One also needs a way to compare infrastructure designs and systems to achieve the most resilient outcome. Sustainability ratings tools have the potential to do this.

It is no longer enough to merely say that one is ‘building green’.  Australian consumer law is clear on the obligations regarding environmental claims under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.  Manufacturers, suppliers, advertisers and others are required to assess the strength of any environmental claims.  Claims have to be demonstrated and certified.  Methods of measuring sustainability are vital.  There is also a renaissance in driving sustainability up and down one’s supply chain.

The Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star environmental rating system for buildings and communities and the Australian Green Infrastructure Council’s IS rating scheme for infrastructure setting benchmarks.  Ratings tools allow one to assess and certify best practice.  
These ratings credentials will demonstrate that one can create better water and sewerage infrastructure for communities and cities in Australia. 
There are also opportunities to export these skills.  Sustainability ratings tools will be vital if Australians are to realise the opportunities from the current scale and pace of urbanisation in Asia.

The Australian Government’s recently-releasedAustralia in the Asian Centurywhite paper points to the fact that Asia will soon be home to the majority of the world’s middle class, all of whom need water and sewage networks, treatment infrastructure and utilities.  In the wake of recent natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy and the Queensland floods, major infrastructure programmes are planned or are underway in several countries.

The Great Stink in the summer of 1858, the city of London (an overwhelming stench from the River Thames, that shut down Parliament) led to the construction of sewer in London.  Infrastructure investment decisions have long-term consequences, as the assets can shape development for decades – often beyond their lifetime.  So decisions on infrastructure should anticipate the long-term environment, needs and constraints under which it will function.

However, our ability to predict the future has been shown to be limited.  Climate change is introducing deep uncertainty that makes this even more difficult. The environmental conditions under which infrastructure performs are likely to change radically and its design needs to take this into account.

Sustainability thinking is crucial for making clear the connections between the infrastructure project and the local and wider society, economy, environment and businesses. It is also vital to spotting where these connections could cause serious vulnerabilities that put the entire system at risk. Ensuring that these connections are elastic, adaptable and resilient will benefit society, the economy and the environment.

Rating tools not only provide a way to determine an infrastructure asset's sustainability, they also enable comparison of the sustainability of different assets, or of different design solutions for a single asset. While the principal use for these tools is to determine the asset's rating, they can also be used – informally – in 'design' mode.

Using ratings tools to understand resilience is an important area for the development of infrastructure sustainability tools. Significant progress will be made in this direction over the next years, as ratings organisations and universities (University of Leeds Institute for Resilient Infrastructure for example) develop the means to measure water and sewerage infrastructure resilience.

30 Year Water Strategy Policy Reference Group

How can Australians lead by example to ensure affordable, secure, sustainable water and sewerage services in our own communities and developing communities?

On Tuesday 5th March 2013 from 12 noon until 2pm ASBG are organising a policy reference group for ASBG members to discuss the discussion paper, hosted by Aurecon.

The Department of Energy and Water Supply has launched a discussion paper to guide the development of a 30 Year Water Sector Strategy to ensure affordable, secure, sustainable and high quality water and sewerage services across Queensland. Submissions close Friday 29 March 2013.

The Queensland Water Sector Discussion Paper is designed to facilitate active discussion and participation in creating a new path for Queensland’s water future in urban, rural, regional and remote communities.

If you wish to attend the forum at Aurecon, please RSVP to rowan@asbg.net.au

10 February, 2013

carmichael coal-mine and rail

Adani is proposing to develop a 60 million tonne (product) per annum (Mtpa) thermal coal mine in the north Galilee Basin approximately 160 kilometres (km) north-west of the town of Clermont, Central Queensland. All coal will be railed via a privately owned rail line connecting to the existing QR National rail infrastructure near Moranbah, and shipped through coal terminal facilities at the Port of Abbot Point and/or the Port of Hay Point (Dudgeon Point expansion). The Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (the Project) will have an operating life of approximately 90 years. Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Table 8-6 outlines the average greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions predicted for each project in the Study Area. The total GHG emissions for projects in the region for which emissions data is available is 13.0 MtCO2-e per annum. The Project’s contribution to cumulative greenhouse gas emissions is considered to be of low significance.  However, the study does not take into account any of the emissions for transporting the product over vast distances or indeed the emissions associated with burning the product as a fuel.

From Table 8-6 Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Project Greenhouse Gas Emissions Average
Emissions: Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project Mine:  2,286,000 (t CO2-e / yr) plus 637,000 (t CO2-e / yr) for the rail project.

 The project's impacts on matters of national environmental significance are being assessed under a bilateral agreement process.

The Coordinator-General will consider your submission as part of his assessment of the project's environmental impacts.

Submissions close at 5pm on Monday 11 February 2013.