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Australia’s national energy market is run by a lawyer and climate changey activist

Audrey Zibelman

Audrey Zibelman

No wonder our national electricity grid is in deep. Audrey Zibelman is the CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). The former New York based woman is a lawyer with an MBA who thinks we can change the weather with our power supply. She was appointed in March 2017. Thank Malcolm Turnbull. Apparently in 2016 she was a favourite for the future Team Hillary in the US.

Audrey the activist

Just to make her motivation clear. Her words last year:

I believe we’re the last generation on earth who can really do something about climate change.

The manager of our electricity market thinks wind and solar are actually competitive:

And the good thing is that technology has evolved so that we don’t have to worry about sacrificing economics for good environmental policy.”

Notably, what she isn’t dreaming of is cheap electricity:

Her dream is of a grid dominated not by big power suppliers and their fossil-fuel generators, but rather a system of “distributed energy” that delivers better supply security by storing solar and wind power in batteries for later use. She wants a market that better rewards people with rooftop solar panels and other renewables; with incentives for more efficient power use in peak times; that harnesses idle energy, instead of building more large power stations for short periods of peak demand in hotter months.

You might think the Australian national grid should be providing electricity rather than being a tool to reward people for buying uneconomic equipment in the hope of stopping Antarctica from melting. Silly you.

Oops? How do you mistake a 100% artificially forced transition with a natural one

Zilbelman talks about the energy transition as if it is some natural change thrust upon us, instead of an artificial bubble, like a giant marshmallow man, inflated entirely and pumped relentlessly by government dollars to keep it from collapse:

Resisting energy transition like trying to resist internet says Zibelman

“This is not a judgement about anything. It’s just the reality that the economics have changed, and technology has changed, and resisting this change is a little like trying to resist the internet. It’s just going to happen because of where technology is going.”

How many governments had to offer $5 billion in subsidies to convince people to try the internet? Zero.

Note from Jo:
Jo Nova

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Zibelman hasn’t done any research. Everywhere government subsides are withdrawn, renewable investors flee the market at light speed. In Germany, after 20 years of subsidies, half to three quarters of the wind industry was forecast to disappear as the subsidies end and another 80,000 solar jobs are gone. It happened in Australia too where 97 percent of renewables investment suddenly dried up without subsidies.

Audrey Zibelman — a lawyer with a BA and MBA

At university, she spent no years studying physics, chemistry or engineering.

But she did marry an electrical engineer:

Her husband, Phil Harris, is the chief executive officer of Tres Amigas, a New Mexico-based company that is seeking to raise more than $1 billion to connect the nation’s electric grids and allow for greater growth of clean energy.

Which raised other questions in 2015. Journalists asked about potential conflicts of interest with her then role as head of the NY Public Service Commission. After that, she recused herself.   h/t Beachside at Catallaxy.

June 16, 2015:  ALBANY—As New York’s top energy regulator, Audrey Zibelman is in a position to influence a market worth billions of dollars and help set the policy that governs it. At the same time, Zibelman, who worked in the private sector before Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed her chairwoman of the state Public Service Commission in 2013, has unusually close ties to energy companies vying for work in New York.

She cofounded Viridity Energy  which sold software to help people with batteries and panels minimize their electricity bills. How uneconomic are batteries? It would only take $60-90 billion to back up South Australia. Yes, 100% renewable is possible — though not at the same time as having an economy.

The issue is “not technology” says the non-technologist

Storage, price, efficiency, frequency stability? Wave a magic wand, other people who understand these things will definitely absolutely solve this and with other people’s money.

Zibelman also believes she is in the best place to solve them. “The issue is not so much the technology; technology is happening,” she said. “It’s the regulatory regimes and the market regimes that need to be adapted to the future power system.”

It’s all just a question of rules. If we change the system and don’t worry about how much it costs, anything can be solved. We just need to use the right language when we talk to baby electrons.

 Zibelman was apparently on Hillary Clinton’s hot-list:

Australian Fin Review:

One of Hillary Clinton’s hot picks to lead the United States Department of Energy has been appointed as chief executive of the Australian Energy Market Operator, as part of the political and corporate exodus in the wake of Donald Trump’s upset election victory.

No surprise then, that she was so appealing to Turnbull who is on the same side of politics as Hillary.

For the record, AEMO is 60% owned by taxpayers

Just so we all know who is ultimately responsible for the AEMO:

AEMO is a public private partnership between government, which owns 60% and industry members (including generators, transmission companies, retail and distribution businesses, resource companies, and investment companies) who own 40%. AEMO operates on a cost recovery basis as a company limited by guarantee under the Corporations Act (2001). AEMO fully recovers its operating costs through fees paid by participants.

I was unable to find the salary package used to tempt her to move to Australia. From the 2017 AEMO Annual Report, total wages and salaries of their employees add up to $76m (unless I am reading page 56 incorrectly –can someone familiar with accounting check?)

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