John Quiggin writes in The Conversation (6.3.17) about how privatisation has failed to keep Australia's electricity supply cheap and reliable. The author argues that it's time to renationalise the electricity grid.
'The public debate over the problems of electricity supply displays a curious disconnect. On the one hand, there is virtually universal agreement that the system is in crisis. After 25 years, the promised outcomes of reform – cheaper and more reliable electricity, competitive markets and rational investment decisions – are further away than ever.
'On the other hand, proposals to change the situation range from marginal tweaks to politically motivated mischief-making. The preliminary report of the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market, released last year, canvasses such options as the introduction of capacity markets for reserve power, which have done little to resolve problems overseas.
'Meanwhile, the Turnbull government has used recent failures to score points against renewable energy (hated, for obscure historical-cultural reasons, by its right-wing base) and to promote the absurd idea of new coal-fired power stations.
'This debate might make sense if the system had worked well in the past. In reality, however, the National Electricity Market (NEM) never produced lower prices or more reliable power for households.'