CLIMATE SPECTATOR: The man who kicked the hornets' nest

By questioning the methods of Australia's multi-billion dollar power networks, Ross Garnaut has taken on a fight for the public interest. The challenge for governments is that he’s right.

Climate Spectator

Ross Garnaut has never baulked at a public fight, and I’m pretty sure he relishes the prospect of a good stoush with vested interests. At least, I hope he does – he’s just taken on two very large industries.

On Tuesday night Garnaut launched his eighth climate change Update Paper, "Transforming the electricity sector”. The paper has the usual trademarks of his work, and pulls together a thorough study of several issues into a unique, engaging and elegant analysis.

As expected, Garnaut stuck to his guns and stated that there is no case to compensate coal-fired generators if we introduce a carbon price. However, as a concession to the generators the paper recommends the establishment of an Energy Security Council and provision of government loans to high-emissions generators. As expected, several generators are less than impressed and are already predicting variations of rolling black-outs, economic collapse, plagues of locusts and Armageddon.

What fewer people saw coming was Garnaut taking on the multi-billion dollar network companies. According to Garnaut, the companies that manage Australia’s transmission and distribution networks, the poles and wires, are making huge and inappropriate profits off consumers.

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