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Power in NSW in chaos

Dear Editor

AS AN EX-Pacific Power electrical engineer who spent 33 years building and maintaining power stations in NSW it makes me sad to see what is happening to the power industry in NSW in just 7 years. NSW once had a reliable power system.

With the closing of  1,000MW Wallerwang Power station in 2015 NSW lost 10 percent of its coal fire power stations.

I noticed that Malcom Turnbull condemn[ed] Victorian Premier Daniels Andrew when the owner of Hazelwood 1,800MW power station Engrie decided to close it but did not condemn Gladys’s Berkeleian government for closing [the] 1,000MW Wallerwang Power Station in 2015.

By privatising the NSW power industry, the O’Farrell, Baird and Berejiklian governments have destroyed a reliable and profitable service, just as they have wrecked TAFE by substituting it with private providers. This is dramatically shown by the sacking of 5,000 TAFE teachers and the proposed mass sell-off of 27 TAFE colleges. Consequently TAFE enrolments are down by 11.2% to 404,456  in the year 16 July 2017 . No wonder our young people are leaving TAFE colleges in droves and it’s no wonder – The Liberal and National just don’t believe in TAFE.

— Tony Morrissey, Chifley NSW
5 /5/2018

Morrissey also circulated the letter below as background:

Daily Telegraph

NSW Power Industry has gone back to the 1940s

The article in Daily Telegraph (3/5/2018) by Matthew Benns “Power fix collecting dust for decades” clearly shows what happens when private companies are running our power stations.

The power shortage NSW is facing also occurred in the 1940s. At that time NSW power was supplied haphazardly by four private companies and the Labor Premier of NSW, James McGirr, realised that for the state to prosper it must have a reliable power system.

So, the state government in 1950 took over the running of the four companies forming the Electricity Commission of NSW (Pacific Power) which took on the task of building new power stations and transmission lines. Under their stewardship the price of electricity, which was 25 cents/kWh came down to 8 cents/kWh, but more importantly reliability was increased. There were no blackouts. NSW had been switched back on.

But as we all now know to our cost, after 1990 with state governments selling-off power assets, the price of electricity has shot up from 8 cents/kWh to 47.5 cents/kWh.

What is happening in NSW also happened in the blackout state of South Australia. In 1997 the SA Olsen Liberal Government sold the power industry to a Chinese company Cheng Kong. Before the sale the South Australia Electricity Trust planned to build an interconnector between NSW and SA. But the Chinese company was more interested in its shareholder returns than the reliability.  So this plan was shelved. Now this interconnection is going ahead. If this interconnector had been built in the late 1990s SA would not have had to endure the blackout of 28 September 2016.

Before the NSW O’Farrell Government came into power in 2013 the previous government had given Macquarie Generation the go-head to install additional generators at Bayswater Power station. But again, the new owner of Liddell and Bayswater, AGL was more interested its shareholders as demonstrated when the CEO, Andy Vesey, declared his company was expected to make a $1billion profit.

The worsening position in NSW is a direct consequence of the Berejiklian Government’s biggest fire sale in Australia history when it sold off six NSW power stations for just over $1.56 billion resulting in the closure of Wallerawang Power Station. The Chinese company that brought Wallerwang Power Station (1,000MW) in 2013 sold it six months later.

Thanks to this on that sweltering day of  10 February 2017, the Tomago Aluminum smelter was forced to shut down to avoid an embarrassing blackout for the entire state, both for corporations and citizens alike.

If Wallerawang Power station was still in service NSW would not have a power problem.


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