Origin Energy’s propaganda war against renewables

origin not love renewables

The sorry state of origin’s stance on renewables…

Australian energy utility Origin Energy is under the SQHQ microscope this week readers. More specifically their claim that the carbon tax and subsidies for green schemes are the chief cause of the rise in the average electricity bill. Your correspondent received his bill from Origin on Thursday. While never a pleasant experience this was made worse by a clear message situated prominently on the lower right side of the document in big red letters.

NSW Govt estimates that the Federal carbon tax and green energy schemes add about $332 a year to a typical 6.5MWh household bill.

Sounds nasty readers but is it true?

The source of the claim was given as IPART — the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal. Out of interest — and on behalf on SQHQ — your scribbler popped over to the IPART website to investigate this claim. Under the FAQ “Why have electricity prices increased so much in recent years” was this answer:

A typical regulated customer’s electricity bill has increased in NSW over the past 6 years by around $1060 per annum.

Rising network costs have been the biggest contributor to the increase in electricity bills. These are the costs of paying the network businesses to use the transmission and distribution networks to transport electricity from the power stations to their customers properties.

Subsidies for green schemes and the carbon tax are mentioned but as secondary causes. It appears that Origin is being (shall we be diplomatic here readers?) “economical with the truth”. Very economical.

SQHQ’s very own Finn Peacock was of a similar mind when your correspondent asked him about the real cause of the rise in the average electricity bill.

“The vast majority of power price rises are due to increased poles and wires to cope with peak demand from air conditioners,” said Finn making an excellent point at the SQHQ water cooler. Then he really hit his stride when he added:

Every time someone installs a $1500 air conditioner, everyone else subsidises this through an extra $7,000 in network upgrades. A quick Google search will find the government report that actually calculated this!

Irony is that I bet most of the narks who slag off solar subsidies, also have an air conditioner or two in their homes.

Now (surprise, surprise!) Origin has a bit of form opposing renewable energy. Not only is the company pushing the propaganda about green energy being solely responsible for the dramatic rise in the average electricity bill, but they have announced quite openly their desire to prevent the growth of renewables.

This has been covered very well in a recent Greenpeace/100% Renewable report Strangling Renewables: Origin Energy’s Campaign against Renewable Energy. The study concludes that the company is actively undermining the growth of the renewable energy sector in a number of ways. This includes using misinformation (like the above) to influence the review due early next year of the Renewable Energy Target (currently set at 20 percent of energy from renewables by 2020).

This appears to be just the opening salvo in a long war conducted by the large energy utilities against renewable energy. The evidence would suggest Origin and other large energy utilities are conducting a drawn out propaganda war against renewable energy.

However we’d like to throw the question to you: was the propaganda on blaming green energy and the carbon tax for the rise in the average electricity bill just the beginning? What can we expect in the next phase leading up to the review of the renewable energy target? Please have your say here and over at our Facebook Page.



  1. Actually, I believe you have Mr O’Farrell to thank for that message. It’s a NSW government directive that ALL energy companies include that statement on their bills now. Remember, it was the state gov that approved all the cost increases, and the CT is a convenient smoke screen they can use to shift the blame
    This isn’t recent though… why are you only just seeing it now?.

  2. A s a long-time (30+ year) solar user, I had a grid-connect system installed (for the income!), but fully intending to convert it to a stand-alone system in due course
    The only worry is that the industry-manipulated governments you fools persist in electing and supporting by paying taxes will put a per-capita tax (poll-tax kind of thing) on daylight in the same way they already have on rainfall.
    …and along the lines of the AVAILABILITY of water-mains and sewerage lines.

    Trying to do anything useful by playing the game by the rules created by very people you’re bitching about is the ultimate in stupidity; if you really wanted to win a football match you’d use a cricket-bat!
    Wake up to yourselves and foment a REAL revolution!

    Y’could start by encouraging people NOT to pay ANY gas/electricity at all; just refuse to play the game until prices and ‘terms -and-conditions’ are reasonable. What’s the worst that could happen? Oh wait! I know: they’d jack up the bills of those still paying by a few hundred percent…until they dug their heels in too…..and then…..

    To quote an old Australian colloquialism:- ‘ave a go yer mugs!

  3. Yes Minister says

    QLD governments since Teflon Pete have systematically siphoned a billion dollars a year out of wholesalers Energex / Ergon and the retailers have taken another four billion a year that we didn’t incur before that lying slimeball Beattie promised lower costs from increased competition. I suspect this five billion dollars is more significant that the convenient but tired old ‘poles & wires’ excuse, certainly there has been precious little ‘poles & wires’ expenditure in Queensland since General Disaster got up & sacked a heap of electricity workers (among others). The mere fact that a politician nominates a certain reason doesn’t necessarily mean that reason has any truth to it, in fact one really needs to apply the ‘did their lips move’ test to anything uttered by a politician. For what its worth, significantly reduced ‘workers’ means a dearth of staff capable of working on poles & wires. Interestingly very few of the unproductive biro-pilot / mouse-jockey types have been dispensed with.

  4. Peter Taylor says

    I won’t attempt to be diplomatic in my criticism of Origin as they, like other distributers are only interested in profits and not service. Having said that, I’m informed that they are probably close the best of a bad bunch who produce nothing tangible and make money for doing so. I can understand why they are so critical of renewable energy as it will only reduce their profits. Maybe they should impose a substantial surcharge on installation of air conditioners rather than dumping on anyone who actively strives to reduce their energy consumption.

  5. Richard Gault says

    The real reason given for the huge power increases was that the Level 1 Power providers were given directions by the government to go ahead and build massivbe new powerline and substation infrastructure way in advance of when it was needed. In fact their subsidies were so good they built way more new capacity than was required and we are paying for it.
    On Origin. Your blog a few days ago tells the true story on renewables relating to their current rip offs. If the tariff being paid to send solar KW’s into the grid is only 8c and they are charging 30c for it then they are happily ripping off all the renewables. Best thing is the more people they piss off the better because more people will look at leaving the grid and the price of storage batteries will come down further and there will be less green house gases. Also with amazing technology like the Mastervolt mini generators from Germany it is becoming cheaper and cheaper to generate your own power. Keep the rip offs coming. All heil to the renewables.

    • phase.verocity says

      Well then you have to ask why the government asked them to increase massive new powerline and substations at the same time that the gov’t has started bitching about green house gasses and renewable energies. My biggest problem is.. ” Why is the cost always given off to the buyer”. I assume that the reason we pay more than the basic cost to a company is so that the company can build up. By law all profit apart from wages and costs is supposed to go into an organisation. Why then haven’t these electricity companies been putting that profit into these substations. After all we’ve been paying these profits for years. The only reasonable excuse I can think of is that CEO payouts cost too much for them or the money is going somewhere else like invalid construction costs etc. Its not really very funny how everything is going up in price and there is always some excuse but the blame never gets put on the CEO’s of a company. Does anyone know what the CEO’s from Origin received or how much money was wasted on ridiculous exercises. I know they have dug up the same piece of road in front of my house about 4 times in the past 5 years. I think what most of us get upset about isn’t so much the rise in the cost but more so as to where that profit is going and when I see them rip up the same piece of street 4 times in 5 years I’m guess its in ridiculous project costs. The reality with solar is that the profit they were making 10 years ago should have been going into making renewable energy but they chose to waste it on these projects that have absolutely no valid meaning to the average jo blow who’s paying the bill.

      Electricity should never have been privatized. Its a wonder the govt has to do anything these days.

    • Yes Minister says

      Personally I’m not aware of **ANY** ‘gold plated poles & wires’ expenditure in Queensland since the price escalation began, consequently I can only assume that furphy was invented by the elected grubs of whatever colour to divert attention from both their own money grab & that of the retailers Over the past 18 months or so, the General Disaster government in Queensland has dramatically reduced all expenditure on capital works & maintenance but still we see the regular power price escalation. That alone proves the story about ‘poles & wires’ story is unmitigated crap. Undoubtedly the main reason the retail sector was privatized was removing responsibility from the bloodsucking parasites we elect to look after our interests. Blind Freddie could have forseen the MASSIVE & ongoing price rises due to company operating profits, shareholder dividends & fatcat CEO salaries. What I’d dearly love to see uncovered are the kickbacks almost certain provided to politicians in exchange for increasing Origin / AGL / etc profitability. Note particularly that I’m not singling out the incumbent LNP rogues, the problem in Queensland began with the lying Teflon Pete and continued with his utterly inept protege GoAnna the Blight and now the evil Newman / Seeney / Nicholls cabal. None of the bottom-feeders has been even remotely ‘honorable’.

  6. Sean Glassford says

    Hi Richard

    COuld you define the MAstervolt Mini Generator, I canno find any reference to it on MAstervolts website?



    • Me either, Sean.
      But if you’re looking for a u-bewt battery-charger y’can’t do better than bolt a truck-sized alternator (mine puts out up to 125amp @ 24 volt,incorporating regulator) to a heavy bit of plank and a suitable-sized engine (mine’s a 13 hp Robin I picked up for $100 about five years ago) to the other end. A simple drive belt connects them and the output can be regulated by adjusting the engine-revs.
      Needless to say you need an ammeter, and I used a standard auto-type bracket which allows belt-tension to be adjusted in about 30 seconds.

      Cheap, simple and efficient.

  7. Charles Brady says

    When is the ACCC going to act on this anticompetitive behaviour by Origin and others against green energy system users/ suppliers?


  1. Misinformation used again to undermine renewable energy target - Solar Power Blog says:

    […] two weeks ago we delivered a broadside against Origin Energy’s and the NSW State government’s apparent war against solar […]

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