The introduction of a ‘Code Warm’ protocol by the Berejiklian government, aimed to have the public sector reduce electricity demand during extreme weather, will do little to address the impact of years of mismanagement that have drastically reduced energy security for the people of NSW.
The Electrical Trades Union said the privatisation of electricity generation, transmission and distribution assets had stripped the NSW Government of the ability to directly address the threat of large-scale blackouts.
The union also highlighted the fact that several privatised power stations had been shut down by the new owners, reducing the state’s baseload power supplies in an attempt to drive up the prices their remaining power stations can achieve.
ETU secretary Dave McKinley said announcements such as the ‘Code Warm’ protocol were little more than window dressing and would do little to address the underlying issues.
“In February this year, NSW residents narrowly avoided large-scale rolling blackouts in the midst of a heatwave,” Mr McKinley said.
“The only reason the lights stayed on was that power stations in neighbouring Queensland and Victoria produced huge amounts of electricity that was transferred to NSW, while the state’s largest industrial power user had their supplies forcibly cut.
“With climate change, we know that weather events like this one are becoming more common and more extreme, yet the NSW Liberal and Nationals have spent the last six years selling off the generation and transmission assets that are vital to keeping the power on.
“Among the examples of government mismanagement is the sale of Wallerawang power station, near Lithgow, in 2014 to Chinese-owned Energy Australia. One of the first actions of this new private owner was to mothball the power station, which was capable of producing 1,000 megawatts of baseload power, to increase the profitability of their other generation assets.
“As a result of this sale and closure, the state’s electricity supplies were substantially reduced and our ability to address periods of peak demand was lost.
“While the Liberals and Nationals promised electricity privatisation would mean lower power prices, what we are increasingly seeing is less reliability and higher prices as profit-hungry foreign investors seek to maximise the return from these essential services rather than acting in the interest of the people of NSW.
“The Berejiklian government needs to admit that their claim that the private sector are better placed to provide an essential service like electricity was wrong, and start the process of directly investing in the power generation and distribution resources we need to keep the lights on in future.”