Gold-Plating the Power Grid

RETA continues to connect with other organizations around the world that are battling electricity transmission companies, governments, system operators and regulators in an attempt to make electricity transmission safer and more cost effective. An organization that we have recently connected with in New South Wales, Australia is The Manning Alliance Inc. which has confronted similar challenges to RETA in helping the power transmission industry and governments understand the well-documented and recognized negative impacts of overhead high voltage transmission lines and the benefits of burying these lines and more honest planning that reduces overall transmission costs.

Through our contact with the Manning Alliance, we have become aware of an article in the Sydney Morning Herald that discusses the overbuilding or “gold-plating” of the power grid in parts of Australia that is very similar to the situation in Alberta. The article cites numerous examples of overspending by Australian transmission giants such as TransGrid in New South Wales and Powerlink Queensland. Reporter Michael West writes, “There is a fundamental flaw in the structure of the power industry. Thanks to its regulated return on assets, the more the power companies spend the more money comes through the door.” (Does this sound familiar or what?)

The article cites many examples of gross overspending by transmission companies, and points out how industry public consultation processes, surveys and websites are biased in an attempt to justify developing solutions that are as expensive as possible because that’s how they make higher profits. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is criticized for working far too closely with the transmission companies in a cozy relationship that ends up benefitting industry but costing consumers higher power rates. (The Alberta Electric System Operator {AESO} and transmission companies in Alberta are similarly criticized for working too closely together which has partly resulted in Albertans paying some of the highest electricity rates in Canada.)

The more we connect with other responsible electricity transmission organizations around the world, the more we discover how similar the many tactics are by transmission companies, system operators, regulators and governments that end up unduly benefitting the power industry at the expense of ratepayers.

~ by RETA on July 9, 2012.

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