Framing — Common Language Unites Renewable Energy Opponents In Australia, Canada, & US

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Australia has some of the highest electricity prices in the world. According to Angus Taylor, that country’s new energy minister, it’s all the fault of renewable energy. He told parliament this week that the government intends to provide a safety net for all utility customers to stop “rip-offs from the big energy companies,” according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald. “We will drive prices down, that’s our policy. Those opposite will drive them up,” he said.

renewable energy

Australia And Renewables

The new government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made it clear it wants to eliminate any and all renewable energy incentives and prop up existing fossil fuel generators instead. Taylor said the government would “back investment in fair dinkum reliable generation because that’s what this country needs.”

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“Reliable” is the operative word here. According to the Morrison crowd, renewables are solely responsible for the wind storms and lighting strikes that knocked out power to many utility customers in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia in recent months. Precisely how solar panels and wind turbines did that is never made clear, however.

Taylor claims South Australia’s 50% renewable energy target is responsible for making electricity in that state the most expensive in the nation. How electricity that costs well under 5 cents per kilowatt hour to produce can be driving up utility bills is also something Taylor fails to adequately explain. Apparently the people of Australia are just supposed to swallow this codswallop whole without a whimper of protest or the slightest critical examination.

Ontario Goes Berserk

In Canada, Ontario’s new premier Doug Ford is also spouting the same party line about how renewables are driving up the price of electricity. His government has abruptly cancelled 758 renewable energy contracts agreed to by the prior government. New energy minister Greg Rickford says the move will save utility customers in the province $790 million, according to a report by the CBC.

“For 15 years, Ontario families and businesses have been forced to pay inflated hydro prices so the government could spend on unnecessary and expensive energy schemes. Those days are over. We clearly promised we would cancel these unnecessary and wasteful energy projects as part of our plan to cut hydro rates by 12 per cent for families, farmers and small businesses,” Rickford said.

Lies, Damn Lies, And Renewables

Clearly, someone is lying. Not fudging, not dissembling. Telling outright lies that have no basis in fact. Yet the same words and phrases keep popping up again and again. Take this op-ed piece published by the Boston Herald on September 19. Written by Stephen Moore, it makes the case that renewables are burdening low income families by driving up the cost of electricity.

Moore rails against renewable energy targets set by states like California, New York, and others, and asks why local utilities are being forced to buy expensive renewable energy?  “These renewable energy standards require that utilities to buy expensive wind and solar power. They then pass these costs onto the poor and working class, who get stuck paying the tab.”

“If you want to keep the lights or the air conditioning on at home, or recharge your iPhone or iPad, or keep the factories and hospitals and schools open, we are going to need the reliability of fossil fuels­. Period,” Moore claims. He then adds, “These mandates aren’t just dangerous. They will raise electric power costs sharply. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that residents of states like California and New Jersey with strict renewable mandates pay about 25 percent more in monthly electric utility bills than states that let the marketplace choose the lowest cost forms of power.” And Moore is just getting started. Now the spittle is beginning to form on his lips as he gets to the heart of his argument.

“We are talking about hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars of higher costs every year to homeowners to enrich billionaires like Elon Musk and Tom Steyer­. This is Robin Hood in reverse: Rob the poor to pay the super rich. Low-income households spend at least four to five times more out of their incomes in energy costs than do millionaires. For a family with an income of $40,000 or $50,000, an extra $500 a year in costs means less money for school supplies, day care, a family vacation or health insurance.

“All of this is so unnecessary. If wind and solar are truly the energy sources of the future — with reliability and low costs — let the market determine that. Why do they need mandates and billions of dollars of federal subsidies to make them work? This is an experiment of imposing high costs on American small businesses, farms and families to pay off wealthy green energy investors. Could anything be more illiberal than this?”

What’s That Stench?

Are you beginning to smell a rat? You should. According to his bio, Stephen Moore “is a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy.” Hmmm, the Heritage Foundation — the official propaganda organ for Charles and David Koch. Executive editor Zachary Shahan pulled the curtain back on that pair and their nefarious doings way back in 2016.

The Kochs and their well-paid acolytes know one thing for certain — tell a lie often enough and it becomes the truth. The lie this time is that renewables cause electricity prices to skyrocket, putting unwarranted burdens on poor people — as if the Kochs care a flying fig leaf about poor people. What they care about is gorging on the profits from their far flung fossil fuel empire, even if that means impacting the health and life expectancy of every living person on the face of the Earth.

How an argument is framed is often more important than the argument itself. The Kochs are masters at framing an argument so that its real purpose is well hidden from the audience. But if you think people in Australia, Canada, and the US spouting the same lies at the same time is merely a coincidence, you may want to get your bullshit detector recalibrated — before it’s too late.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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