Thursday, August 20, 2015

Enova and Sydney's 1995 electricity heist

Back in November 2014 I provided a brief report on Northern Rivers plans to launch a community owned clean energy generator. Now the proposals have got to the launch stage, with the new venture to be called Enova.

I'm sorry, but I can't help feeling angry. Not, I hasten to add, with Enova, just with Sydney's great big electricity heist. You see, we used to have New England power distributors, many with their own generation capacity.They were profitable, with the profits ploughed back into local activities.

Then, the good folks in the NSW Treasury decided that this wasn't right. Those local county councils did not have the economies of scale to survive. Further, they were capital lazy, not required to earn a sufficient return on capital. So what those bright sparks in Sydney did was to take over the lot, centralise them, then borrow against the assets, all this in the name of economic rationalism and efficiency. That money was effectively pissed away without gain to the areas that lost their assets and associated cash flow. The world has changed and now we are trying to recreate.

Okay, I may be wrong and prejudiced, but this 2010 post (Sydney's 1995 electricity heist) provides the background, footnotes and all. Am I wrong to be angry?


Anonymous said...

Alison Crook is one of the leading lights behind Enova. She is better known in some circles as Pixie Bunning. She was at UNE from 65-68 (or thereabouts), so perhaps you crossed paths with her. Her elder sister, Jan is more your vintage, so perhaps you also knew her @ UNE. I have no idea what she studied. Pix and I went through NGHS together. She was/is the 'most famous' and almost undoubtedly the most successful of our cohort. A group of us still try to have a get together every 12-18 months. Started packing yet?

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Jude. Yes, I knew Jan Bunning. What a small world. I don't properly remember Alison (Pixie), although on those dates we must have crossed paths. On packing, Helen wants me properly dressed, so Louise (Helen's Aunt) delivered some clothes plus a suitcase. I'm looking forward to it, although I'm just so broke at at the moment without an income stream other than the pittance I get from my writing.

Johnb said...

Northern Rivers County Council was another such Jim. The other great loss was that local workforce dedicated to maintaining supply no matter what nature threw at us. If we had aproblem you could ring the local works foreman to let him know, have the chat and a solution was generated.What you have described is a global phenomenon affecting many. I have some figures for Coffs Harbour where 42% of residential properties are now rental properties and the proportion is growing. Whatever happened to home ownership and the steady well paying work that underpinned home ownership.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi JB. It is a global phenomenon, but there a a variety of local variations. In our case, we have seen our trades/middle class cleaned out. I have been monitoring over time. makes me very cynical about generalised arguments. We always seem to lose.