TRANSGRID LEASE EXPOSES CONSUMERS AND RENEWABLE ENERGY TO UNCERTAIN FUTURE

The $10.3 billion paid for the long-term lease of NSW’s high voltage transmission network raises serious questions about what guarantees have been given to the consortium and their costs for consumers and the future of the renewable energy industry, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

Dr Kaye said: “The over-the-odds sale price looks like consumers have been served up on a platter to the multi-national consortium.

“Premier Mike Baird must come clean on the details of what guarantees were provided.

“TransGrid is the nerve centre of the electricity system in NSW.

“If a top-dollar sale price was locked in with a series of contract sweeteners, then inevitably it will be consumers and the renewable energy industry who will pay.

“With annual revenues of only $2.2 billion, TransGrid was set to be the smallest of the leases yet it has brought in what looks like a highly inflated price.

“This will help Mike Baird politically and it will provide for additional infrastructure but inevitably the additional cash will be extracted from households.

“The Australian Energy Regulator wrote down TransGrid’s allowable annual revenue from $2.9 billion to $2.2 billion.

“Clearly the new leaseholders are expecting something more for their $10.3 billion investment.

“There is little the electricity price commissioner can do to protect consumers after the first four years of the lease period.

“The transmission network, set up to deliver electricity from the state’s five large coal fired power stations to urban centres and large industry, is at risk of becoming an impaired asset.

“Somewhere hidden in this deal there will be a massive sting in the tail for NSW.

“Today the people of NSW have lost control over their energy future to a consortium of multinational corporations that care nothing for households or the clean energy future,” Dr Kaye said.

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LOCAL COUNCILS SHOULD NOT BE FOOLED BY BAIRD’S BLUSTER AND BULLYING

Local councils across the state should not be fooled by Premier Baird’s bullying language and aggressive campaign to force amalgamations.

Premier Baird and Local Government Minister Toole sent a letter to all NSW Mayors with an unsubtle threat to councils who have listened to their local community and decided to remain standalone: “Councils that see the benefits of merging, but are unable to reach agreement with neighbouring councils, should submit their merger preferences even if agreement has not been reached. These councils will have the best opportunity to shape the future of the new council.”

In response to Baird and Toole’s bulliyng letter, Greens MP David Shoebridge has distributed a letter to all NSW Mayors and Councillors with some essential truths.

There is a very good reason why the Premier is so vague and why he is so bullying. He wants councils to capitulate and “voluntarily” merge by the end of this year because the alternative for him is a lengthy, politically damaging and far from certain outcome.

The Premier does not have a political majority in the NSW Upper House to amend the Local Government Act to allow him to simply sack councils and force mergers without due process.

Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: “This is blatant bullying from the Premier and Minister who know that if local councils don’t voluntarily amalgamate, the alternative is a lengthy, politically damaging and far from certain outcome.

“Baird and Toole have clearly been frustrated by local councils who have listened to their communities and been told to stand firm and not become a mega council.

“Most councils after consulting with their communities have found that their residents don’t support having their democratic say diluted by a merger and there is no economic justification for a merger.

“The fact is the Premier does not have a political majority in the Upper House to amend the Local Government Act to allow him to simply sack councils and force mergers without due process.

“The Greens will continue to support locals who, in the face of the Premier’s bullying, decide to stand alone as viable, community-supported and responsible councils.“ Mr Shoebridge said.

Both letters are online here: http://davidshoebridge.org.au/2015/11/13/local-councils-should-not-be-fooled-by-bairds-bluster-and-bullying/

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