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Bonus Joules: Is EECA A Nuclear Reactor?

Bonus Joules and the Knowledge Economy

Is EECA A Nuclear Reactor?


Bonus Joules ponders on cosmic possibilities of how EECA might generate the energy it saves.
Blog 6 June 2005
Chapter 2 No 5: EECA goes Nuclear?


Click through to Bonus Joules Cartoon Strip

Policy launch: Greens offer brighter thinking on energy. So reads the media release this week. Strange. Why does the world suddenly dim down and lose its sparkle? Have we suddenly blown a galactic fuse or something? Time to get the Energy Gobbledygook detector out to check things.

I know what. We can fill in a time while we wait for the universe to light up again with a competition. We each nominate the group(s) we believe are the champion creators of blocks to the development of a sustainable economy. Yes, plenty of you are nominating US President George Bush and his mates. And plenty are for the Fossil Fuel lobby. And the Bulk-electricity industry? Yes, Cattle farming…The plough manufacturers…the Bulk-Fishing sector..

Me? I am not sure whom I nominate. I cannot decide between Climatologists and “Energy Experts” or Environmental Educators in schools, NGOs and communities or Green Parties.

The idea for such a competition is not new. Last year the Flat Earth Award was created for the “Greatest climate change denier”. Personally I cannot understand how anyone can ever deny the climate changes. Well I guess if you live in a greenhouse with artificial lighting and heating you could maintain the illusion for a period. Let’s assume they really talking about Human Induced Climate Change which is a pretty scary concept, knowing our ability to periodically destroy our civilisations.

Flat Earth Award voters are given the choice of three people. As Russell Brown (Hard News) neatly summed it: “The nominees for this dubious honour are mega-popular author, Michael Crichton, mega-loud radio personality Rush Limbaugh and mega-persistent scientist Dr S Fred Singer”.

As we might be waiting some time for the galactic lights to come back on I have made nominations open. My own nominations might seem strange to some. After all, my nominations are for professions and organizations dedicated to the promotion of sustainable uses of energy. Mind you, that is not what they say. They persist in confusing everyone by promoting the use of something called “sustainable energy”. How that is different from energy I do not know.

The point is the following groups are all acknowledged as experts in their fields: Green Parties, Environment NGOs (e.g. Greenpeace, WWF), Climatologists and meteorologists, “energy experts” (consultants, reporters, academics), Environmental Educators, Consumer Advocacy groups (In New Zealand we have the examples of the Consumers’ Institute, Citizens Advice Bureaux, BRANZ, the Royal Society and EECA). These are some of the people we go to when we want advice on matters concerning “environmental”, “energy” and “climate” use.

We know these people devote much of their lives to studying their field and credit them with special insight. In some case we acknowledge the value we place in them by providing them with millions of dollars of funds. Certainly these people believe they are experts to the extent they accept those funds. Equally they believe they offer independent advice, unsullied by commercial restraints and demands.

In short, these groups are accorded the role of authority and perceived as having mana (prestige/charisma). Hence the symbols they employ in their field of expertise have extra power. The images they promote have extra leverage on our sensibility. So when these ‘experts” take a substantial body of sound knowledge and frame it with unsustainable symbols they do far more damage than ‘the evil factory owner spewing poisons into the atmosphere’ or the ‘crazed president murdering people to maintain access to cheap oil’. It could well be these ‘experts’ are the most effective enablers of these activities. They pollute our images and enable unsustainable industrial practices.

How so? After all, despite my reference to millions of dollars in funding, most of these ‘experts’ are not highly paid. Certainly the factory owner and the president are paid far more. Indeed some ‘experts’ are volunteers. This, in the eyes of many, gives their ‘expertise’ and its packaging extra credence. They are seen as passionate and caring -and they tend to be. They are also seen ‘independent’ and this is most debatable.

I will qualify my funding statement too by pointing out these individuals and agencies work in a dog-eat-dog world of ‘contestable funding’ crude ‘user-pays’ imperatives and sponsorship dependency.

The rules for the ‘contestable funding’ are set by those with little care for negative human impacts on the climate, efficient uses of energy and science. ‘User Pays’ is basically a mechanism for limiting knowledge flow and it most benefits the short-term speculators and rip-off merchants. Sponsorship comes with the massive rorts, distortion of knowledge and suppression of wisdom that the largest industry in the world generates. I refer to the mega-billion dollar PR industry. In particular the distortion is created by what is NOT sponsored.

So the world of the ‘environment/energy experts’ is one of insecurity, overwork and stress. It is a battle for survival and they are fighting overwhelming odds? Does this remind you of the frontline soldier stuck in the muddy trenches month-in month-out, living on tinned beef when supplies get through, knowing they are fighting the good cause against an almost intractable enemy? Life becomes an act of survival and your worst enemy can seem to be your comrades in your trench. How many of you feel I am lobbing grenades at you from behind the lines?

OK, the analogy is far stretched but it contains at least one useful element: the military symbol. These ‘experts’ are very often the shock troops of the amoral industrial-military complex they work so hard to dismantle and reform. The information they impart becomes a deadly missile because of how it is framed. The greater the knowledge, the more damaging the impact.

For instance, their choice and use of symbols means climatologists and ‘energy experts’ become the voice of the Bulk- electricity/fossil fuel sector. They become powerful amplifiers of this sector’s messages. Their symbols resonate in our primal beings so we tend to act in that sector’s short-term interests. Regardless of the longer-term consequences to the environment and ourselves.

In my last blog I discussed the power of our primal beings – for good and bad. I also pointed out while we are a part of creation we can never truly know what is good and bad. I will add a thought. It is compassion that enables us to transcend this ignorance. It is compassion for ourselves so we can learn, compassion for others so they too may learn and compassion for our environment that enables us to live in balance with it and for humanity to survive. I write this with a sense of compassion.

I use the Green Party Energy Policy media release as an example simply because it is topical this week. I could write at length about it - just as I have elsewhere about the NZ Consumer Institute, WWF PowerSwitch and the Potsdam Climate Research Institute. And just as one day I may get to write about BRANZ, the Royal Society, TKI, our so-called universities etc. However I will restrict myself to the use of a couple of symbols used by the Green Party.

Be mindful that we now live in what some describe as the Energy Conscious Age. This, in practice, does not mean we know the nature of energy better than our ancestors. Arguably, as evidenced by our activities, we know less about it. It means the PR Spin of the bankers of major industrial sectors surrounds us. In New Zealand, since the Reforms of 1980/90s we live in a world dominated by symbols like Mighty River Power, TransPower, TrustPower, Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy, Origin Energy, PowerCo, EmPower, Energize, Energy Online, Solid Energy, King Country Energy, MainPower, Mercury Energy, Todd Energy, ScanPower….

And of course the collapse of OnEnergy means it is now presumably is OffEnergy and Fresh Start Energy is now Rotten Finish Energy.

And no, I have not forgotten Contact Positive Energy. As I mentioned two weeks ago, this symbol is in your face everywhere in NZ as Origin Energy (its owner) spends millions to control what they term as the “energy debate”.

It gets the Supreme Junk Joules award for Energy Gobbledygook. It’s miserable-minded principal shareholders have taken one of the greatest ideas ever created by humanity and screwed it stupid for our children. This wonderful thought process generated the Big Bang theory and associated theories such as ideas that our universe came into being as a result of a fantastically small blip in a positive-negative energy balance and that gravitational energy is negative and matter energy is positive. These ideas provide an awesome vision of our existence.

And this company systematically demolishes these grand visions, building on the remarkable insights of St Augustine (6th C AD) and The Buddha (5th C BC), for a measly few million quick-bucks return. In doing so they put humanity at risk. That exploitive attitude bespeaks an uncaring corporate culture that is bound to pervade all its corporate activity.

The rot goes right to the heart of our culture. Do a search on “energy company new Zealand” and you are taken to the holy of holy, our National Library:

http://webdirectory.natlib.govt.nz/dir/en/nz/science-and-technology/energy/

There you faced with a list of 61 companies. All are profoundly involved in the promotion of Bulk-generated electricity. Most of them are directly involved with Bulk-electricity generation and retail. A few are gas and coal companies with an obvious interest and others are promotional agencies such as EECA and the Consumers’ Institute. And note that this all comes up in the name of science! This is energy?!

If you find this bad, then pray for the child’s soul who searches “TKI energy power”. TKI or Te Kete Ipurangi –the Online Learning Centre is an initiative of the NZ Ministry of Education http://www.tki.org.nz/e/tki/

Top of the search list is an item about the potential social crisis caused by our use of Bulk-generated electricity:

http://www.tki.org.nz/r/hot_topics/electricity_e.php

Under Hot Topic comes an article entitled Electricity and the power crisis. Confused by TKI about the nature of power and energy already? I am. And rest of the article rings just about every bell the Bulk-electricity spin merchants create in us.

And now to really confuse you: No 2 on the search list is a page devoted to advertising the symbols of large companies spliced with those of government departments. It’s a Spin Merchant’s delight. This comes up under:

http://www.tki.org.nz/r/ict/pedagogy/learningpower/acknow_e.php

(Please TKI – please leave these pages up! In the future when we live in a Knowledge Economy, teachers will find them excellent resources to illustrate how our generation was thoroughly screwed up about energy and power and how to avoid such dumbing Spin in the future. Simply preface the pages with a note that they are for senior Media Studies classes and not intended for use in Physics per se.)

And parents, check with your teachers that your child is suitably equipped and inoculated against Energy Gobbledygook before allowing them to visit other agencies like The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Office and M-co. Be mindful that in these worlds Bulk-electricity = energy. In these worlds the universe started about 1985 with the Electricity Reforms. Before that there was just dark, the void, no community owned grids and systems, nothing.


Click through to Bonus Joules Cartoon Strip

So this is the environment, the Energy Conscious Age that the Green Party is launching its “Energy Policy” in. Every time they use symbols such as energy, power, sustainable and greenhouse the Greens are ringing a million bells in us, setting up a resonance of a million synapses in us, evoking a million associations in us. The vast bulk of our ‘energy/power’ associations are generated by the Spin-Merchants – which they are quite entitled to, even if they are destructive and put civilisation at potential high-risk.

The first big Green clanger is their implicit definition of energy.What is the “energy’ referred to in their “energy policy”? We get a hint in:

Key initiatives at a glance
Half a million solar water heating panels.
Sustainable Energy Commission
Alternatives to pylons
One-stop energy advisory shop for households
No new coal
Pay for what you use – no fixed charges”

Whoops. They have lost the plot already. Looks like their definition is lifted straight out of Massey University or the National Library or EECA books i.e. Energy= (Bulk-electricity/Gas sector) to the nth power.

The proposal for a Sustainable Energy Commission undermines the Conservation Principle. The Greens could have avoided this by adding the word “Use”. Our behaviour is the central issue, not energy. Also I doubt the Greens envisage the Energy Commission governing Agriculture, Fishing, Forestry, Manufacturing, Construction and other uses of energy as well as Bulk-electricity/Gas sector activities.

The One-Stop advisory shop for households will be of little help if it is framed by the same sensibility as the proposed SEC is. The idea has great potential – for good and bad. Initial analysis indicates it will fail as it rings to many of the current ‘energy’ bells. As a result it will tend to add impetus to present unsustainable trends.

For instance it is little use promoting solar water heating or wind-turbines if Councils continue to promote the destruction of the solar generating capacity of the urban areas. I know only too bloody freezing well. The sun rose two hours ago and the temperature in my room just dipped back down to 11°C. The Wellington City Council, the capital city of New Zealand, recently permitted the destruction of my home’s generating capacity when my northern (equatorial) neighbour’s property was further “developed’.

My sensibility of energy is that we are part of a solar system. My prime initiative would be to make Councils do annual audits of the solar generating capacity in their urban areas just as they do financial audits. And it would be reported in dollar terms. And in the Post Cheap Oil Age we will be talking big dollars.

A quick sample of other Energy Gobbledygook include:

“Every one needs sustainable energy..”

Comment: I don’t. I need access to valuable forms of energy. For this to happen I need a society that behaves in a sustainable way.

“We have real answers here for households who struggle to pay for power bills..”

Comment: There are myriad sources of power on Earth, some come at little or no cost to the individual or the environment. The Greens can make this clear by talking of Bulk-electricity bills.

Our Vision
Energy services reliably and affordably provided from renewable energy.
Smarter use of energy, with less waste and less adverse effects
All New Zealanders play a part in shaping our energy future”

Comment: I don’t know where to start. This is another universe to me. In my vision, citizens have a right to basic necessities such as food, water, shelter, warmth and education (technology). We conserve with care the energy forms that provide them. All New Zealanders have the democratic right to help shape our future.

In the small print of my vision I would mandate access to the sun, as did the wise peoples of 1st Century Greece and the 6th Century Rome under the Justinian Code. I would re-enfranchise communities by revoking the repressive NZ Electricity Reforms of the 1990s so they can develop intelligent uses of electricity and participate in the Electricity Market again.

The pity is that there are very sane ideas buried deep in the confusion of the Green Party Energy Policy. And already the flaws inherent in their symbols are tripping the Greens. I tuned into the middle of a National Radio interview with the Green Party co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons, on their ‘energy policy”. It seems the Bulk-electricity sector companies are already squealing blue murder that the policy threatens the viability of the national electricity grid system.

Jeanette was trying to explain that the sector is confusing two different things –solar hot-water heating and small-scale, solar-based electricity generation. She is not correct. They are not confusing things. The Green Party policy is. This is because its policy is written in terms of the PR Spin of the Bulk-electricity/Gas bankers. It promotes Designer Confusion about energy in general and electricity in particular.

The Bulk-electricity sector simply capitalised on the confusion. Molly Melhuish’s letter on National Radio’s Morning report attempted (and failed) to clear the confusion:

“The business lobby and the mainstream energy suppliers gave the typical knee-jerk reaction to the Green's solar proposal. The number of households involved was misquoted; the cost of the solar proposal was misunderstood. Those lobby groups are simply frightened of change.

Electricity networks have a comfortable monopoly. They see the loss of just 4% of consumer electricity demand as "destabilising". Business and energy lobbies have a comfortable relationship with government. They enjoy subsidies, and guaranteed revenues from captive consumers.

To set the record straight, the proposal involves 7% of households, not a third. Government would fund the set-up costs of the scheme only. Consumers would pay in full. Their benefits come from economies of scale and reliable service from a well-organised industry.

If this proposal allows solar energy to compete more effectively with fossil fuel, isn't that exactly what New Zealand needs?”

To my knowledge the sun remains our mainstream energy supplier. The Bulk-electricity sector spends megabucks attempting to obscure this fact. Molly has just aided this process and glorified them into the bargain. She also confuses electricity networks with the electricity retailer/Bulk-generation sector.

The basis of the companies in this sector is fundamentally flawed and unsustainable and their activities put us all at risk. Molly is correct about their need for subsidies. Indeed they would fall over tomorrow if the repressive Electricity Reforms are repealed tonight and communities are again permitted to develop intelligent local grids.

It’s not a knee-jerk reaction on their parts. It’s a vital, gut-fear response. There is no need for them and their staff can be far better deployed in the national good. What a meaningless job they have. The sector’s bankers understand very clearly they have no role in a sustainable economy and would disappear the same way that music companies have in China where artists bypass the need for a middle agent and retail direct to their audience using the net. ( Digital Life –Nat Radio this week.)

And their professed concern that a loss of 4% of the market will destablise the grid is just so rich. They don’t squeal when demand (and profits) rocket as hordes of Kiwis huddle around TVs and heaters watching a game of rugby and sending demand spiking. Indeed companies like Contact Energy have wound up their Gas-fired plants as hard they could in recent years - even as the country spilled hydro-dam water at unprecedented rates. And the same company ramps up the risk by charging extra for the privilege of turning off your hot water cylinder at peak times. Suffering citizens. That sort of activity puts a country’s electricity system and Gas reserves far more at risk than any move to solar water heating or small scale distributed generation.


Click through to Bonus Joules Cartoon Strip

Remember. The Green Party is only one of my nominations. I rate the NZ Consumers’ Institute ahead of them in the Unstainable Stakes. It has real cred because it is perceived of as politically neutral. Its website states:

“When we say "independent" we mean it

We never accept free goods for testing, nor do we accept donations or sponsorship. Our magazines are completely independent and have no ties with any commercial firm or organisation.

How we're financed

Our money comes from the sale of our publications and subscriptions to Consumer and Consumer Online. We do not accept advertising in anything we publish to protect the strict impartiality of our reporting.”

This is not true. The Government sponsors the Consumer Institute to run its PowerSwitch education programme – just as it sponsors the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux. I mentioned to the Institute that the programme works against the interests of small electricity consumers. I got an enigmatic smile in response – I could not work out if it contained sad resignation or rueful bemusement at my innocence or what, “… yeah, well, we are given good money to host it.”

The PowerSwitch programme is not about promoting citizen’s interests. Its about promoting acceptance of the Electricity Reforms, protecting the short-term interests of the bankers of the Bulk-electricity sector, ensuring communities remain disenfranchised from the Electricity Market and enhancing the flow of community funds into Treasury coffers where they can be siphoned off to the corporations via agencies like EECA, TransFund ($10s billion in motorways) and the Climate Change Office.

NZ PowerSwitch promotes just one concern: the dollar. Environmental-social issues do not register. It promotes companies that pollute, obscure science and dumb our kids, obstruct energy efficiency practice and effective demand-control measures and guts our Gas reserves. It dumps on companies that return profits to local communities in the form of investment in smart technology that enable consumers to make wise use of electricity and gas and other valuable resources.

Our media accepts all this uncritically. My weekly broadsheet (the Sunday Star Times) publishes pages of Consumer Institute commentary on a range of subjects including electricity without any sort of investigative journalism. This failure is costing us big. Witness the ease with which the largest transfer of wealth and power in modern NZ history is occurring at the moment. I refer to the transfer of control of Vector Ltd to a couple of overseas-based bankers.

The new WWF PowerSwitch illustrates how amoral, unsustainable and anti-consumer the NZ PowerSwitch is. It at least attempts to rate Bulk-electricity companies on their social and environmental impacts as well as their dollar cost i.e. promotes Triple Bottom Line accounting.

And here we encounter the great irony of education resources framed in counterproductive symbols. The finer the research that the WWF pours into that frame the more it pees back all over them. The more respected the body of knowledge they create, the greater the obstacle they place in the way of intelligent distributed generation and wise uses of smart technology.

Seeing the initial WWF PowerSwitch welcome page frame was believing. It employed the Bulk-electricity sector definition of power 24 times in an exquisite variety of ways. It was mint textbook PR. I have just checked and it has largely been reframed, thank goodness. (Wonder if it was in response to the article I wrote on it?) However it still persists using the symbol PowerSwitch and so is still ringing a whole lot of Bulk-electricity bells in people– and failing to ring Community Power and Distributed-generation bells.

And So I guess the winner of this week’s Junk Joules Award (Services to the Bulk-electricity Industry) goes to the New Zealand Green Party.

A Green Party spokesperson argued:

“ ..Your message is a very good educational tool but we haven't time for education a few months before an election and have to address where people are now …”

Senior policy makers in a number of departments have all given me variations of this theme: “We cannot stretch the language too far or we lose people”.

In my humble experience laypeople understand and respond well to the use of simple, accurate, scientific terms. It is the university ‘energy experts”, the PR Spin merchants and the business reporters/editors in the media who cannot understand them or do not wish/are unable to use them.

Give up on this small group of people, bypass them, and don’t let them dominate our use of symbols. These people offer a fundamentally unsustainable vision of energy. Theirs is a barren, self-serving miserable world, bereft of the awe and wonder of universal energy/power. Stick with the spirit science and good will prevail.


Click through to Bonus Joules Cartoon Strip

And now, for those unfamiliar with New Zealand politics I should briefly background the Bonus Joules cartoon featuring this week. I am attempting to show that EECA’s claim that humans can conserve energy is misleading and confusing. The humour in the idea that EECA is involved in large-scale, nuclear-based generation has to been understood in the unique NZ context.

In brief, citizens in this country became very concerned about the increasing risk of planned or accidental nuclear warfare in the early 1980s. It had been proven there are people barbaric enough to use such weapons to destroy fellow humans and those people were ramping up the risk with MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) and Star Wars schemes etc. People throughout the New Zealand began meeting in the local homes and church halls to share their concerns. They began declaring first their homes, then their streets, then their towns and cities Nuclear Free.

The hierarchy of the main political parties initially did not support the movement but gradually the NZ Labour Party was encouraged to adopt it as national policy. It won the 1984 election and NZ was declared Nuclear Free.

The USA was intensely hostile to the movement and made all sorts of threats. David Lange, Prime Minister during that period, summed it up in recent Television interview when he said to the effect, “ The Americans do nothing for love. Unlike countries like Belgium, we were permitted to maintain our policy but in return the Americans received unparalleled access to our capital.”

That capital included almost all our infrastructure – rail, telecommunications, electricity, banking… Since that transfer of ownership our capital has been systematically gutted and now the New Zealand household debt-ratio has doubled, living standards and home ownership have dropped, and our prisons are overflowing. In 1987 many of us could see this would happen and faced a terrible choice- vote for the continuing massive transfer of capital or forsake our new found Nuclear Free status. We voted for the latter.

At present no major party is prepared to state they will rescind the legislation and New Zealanders continue to pay a massive price to remain Nuclear Free. So I am making an educational point by mischievous means in the cartoon. This said, EECA's use of symbols promotes a culture that encourages unsustainable uses of energy. This in turn increases the risk that our unintelligent use of electricity and dwellings will result in people thinking nuclear-based generation is a solution to our ignorance.

Finally, a few quick comments on the week:

**********

Quick Comment No1
From Stuff

In a damning submission on the council's draft annual plan, Local Government Forum head Roger Kerr says its poor performance in areas that matter to business is a factor in the leakage of companies from Wellington.

"For many years the forum and other business organisations have been urging the council to focus on its core functions, because this is likely to be the best way of improving Wellington's economic performance. Generally speaking, the council has not accepted this advice."

The truth is the Wellington City Council has accepted Roger’s advice on scale. It deemed its electricity, public transport and communications systems “non-core functions” and divested the first two systems away at bargain prices. It failed to develop Citylink beyond a couple of central city streets and now we are left with crud communication/information systems*. In doing so it destroyed the very definite potential the city had to become the smartest city in the world.

* Before the destruction Wellington was at the cutting edge of intelligent electricity grid use and well positioned to take advantage of the convergence of technologies such as Distributed Generation, Powerline Communication and Smart Electricity Grids.

As a result:

  • Individual debt levels are rocketing in the region and Wellington City Council debt, already now at $NZ94 million is planned to be $NZ361 by 2013;
  • Key parts of the waterfront park have been leased for a century to an oil company and property developers;
  • Regional trust reserves are down to under $40million;
  • And the city relies heavily on increasing Government investment in the Civil Service.
  • The next Government could well put the chop on that investment in the Capital City. And I dread my rate demand as inflation from our oil dependence as the Post Cheap Oil Age kicks in.

    By contrast cities like Christchurch listened to Roger Kerr’s advice and rejected it. Last I heard that that city is debt free, is expanding civil projects, has just built a world class art gallery, still retains its electricity grid and is using it to retain billions of dollars in the community. This is despite national Governments heeding Roger’s advice and forcing Christchurch to divest key elements of its assets.

    **********

    Quick Comment No 2

    Russell Brown (Hard News) has kindly posted his Media Watch (National Radio) commentary on the state of New Zealand’s telecommunications. Its well worth a read and it offers valuable insights into the failure of our Electricity Reform legislation as well.

    As someone on Digital Life (Nat Radio) remarked last week, “If the Government had invested in Mush (municipal broadband networks) five years ago what a different country we would live now.”

    **********

    Quick Comment No 3

    So Post-budget polls indicate the swinging voter is not impressed with the Government’s seeming surplus and likes the idea that there is room for tax cuts. I suspect Michael Cullen, the Minister of Finance, is aware the surplus is temporary and largely illusionary. Rising oil prices and ‘defence’ costs in the next year or so are going to transform oil-dependent economies – look at the US economy. Also in the past a few of those ‘surplus’ billions would have remained in the pockets of students enabling them to have a positive education and in the coffers of communities enabling them to create intelligent local electricity-communications grids. Now those ‘surplus’ billions are an electoral liability for Labour.

    **********

    Quick Comment No 4

    “Bank names South Island grid owner


    By PAUL GORMAN
    26 May 2005

    Online boasting by Australia's biggest investment bank has unmasked the likely new "owner" of the South Island power grid.

    Wachovia Corporation, the fourth-largest bank in the United States, appears to have added New Zealand's $700 million southern grid to its portfolio of overseas assets by signing the controversial deal with state-owned enterprise Transpower in December 2003.

    Now, shucks, ladies and gentlemen, aint that just a li’l awl coincidence. (Said with best nicest American accent). I wonder who had “advised” that deal? It so happens that the Research Director of the Harvard Electricity Policy Group (HEPG) was here about that time. HEPG “explores the issues involved in the transition to a more competitive electricity market”. William’s CV says he has consulted to companies associated with strangely familiar names like California, Maine, Morgan Stanley Capital Group,

    Brazil, Mexico, the Australian Gas Light Company (owner of our OnEnergy at the time of its collapse) TransPower of New Zealand and the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand.

    In fact checking my Electric Thinking section I find the Sanity Salve I wrote to our National Radio host Linda Clark who interviewed Prof Hogan on one of his many “consultancy” visits. The Sanity Salve began:

    “May 5 2003

    Hi Linda,

    I heard your interview with Professor William Hogan from Harvard University who it seems is one of the North American architects of their electricity system in New Zealand. After the interview you said you always find the subject fiendishly difficult and it makes you head hurt.

    It is simple if you understand one thing: it is designed to make your head hurt. Understand this and life will become more simple. Your head will hurt less though your heart may ache a little….."

    Well I guess we are set to know a lot more heartache, especially the Government members that approved the deal. That “budget surplus” must be weighing even heavier now.

    And past activities are coming back to embarrass Wachovia

    "Wachovia apologizes for slavery ties


    June 2, 2005: 1:08 PM EDT
    By Katie Benner, CNN/Money staff writer

    Bank satisfies Chicago ordinance requiring companies with city contracts to disclose slavery ties.”

    **********

    Quick Comment No 5.

    My clothes are swaying on the drying rack. A southerly change occurred at dawn. A stiff wind is blowing from the pole. It is 8°C in this room. The drying rack is in the room beside me.

    Now as old acquaintances can vouch, I have argued for over thirty years now of the value of establishing an industry around the use of wind to generate electricity. Straddling the Roaring Forties makes New Zealand the perfect laboratory and logical world leader. It was not to be.

    So you would think I would be excited at the prospect of Meridian Energy’s media releasing announcing their intention to exploit this wind power and build a huge wind farm near Wellington.

    Well, before I comment I think I will just go outside and refresh my senses in the polar blast roaring past my door. Bye. I may be gone some time.

    ****ENDS*****

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