Monday, 17 February 2014

Power to the people

Congratulations to the Green Party on their excellent proposal to give loans to homeowners to put solar power into their homes. This is an initiative I have personally been advocating for years. Hopefully David Cunliffe and his rather slow moving crowd will jump on board with this as well.

I am not surprised that Jianqi’s government has seen fit to ridicule the whole idea on (FFS) the grounds of expense! For a bloke who is supposed to know about money Jianqi is surprisingly dim when it suits him. Of course he is being ably aided and abetted by Simon the Pixie in his role as Energy Bunny – er I mean Minister.

Russel Norman’s policy involves the government loaning homeowners up to $15,000 to install photovoltaic panels on their houses. I gather that an average house can be set up with an adequate system for about $10,000 so this is a potentially good scheme. The loans would be repayable at the rate of around $900.00 per year via local body rates payments.

The interest rate of 4.1 percent that Russel Norman is proposing is the same as that at which the Government currently borrows money to fund all kinds of wasteful endeavours. The major difference here is that the money would actually be used for something that would bring tangible and worthwhile returns for both the voters and the Government.

Simon the Pixie has argued that the scheme would effectively be a Government subsidy because it involves a lower rate of interest. So what? At least it would be a subsidy which would save the entire country money in the long term.

The Government tells us that solar power is “more expensive than buying power off the grid”. Duhh! Maybe it might be until you have paid for your system, but how about taking a longer term view eh? I would be intrigued to see an argument that showed that over 10 years it did not work out cheaper for a homeowner and then get progressively cheaper to the point where it cost virtually nothing once the loan was paid off.

Simon The Pixie has also said that solar is “not a priority because of the abundance of cheaper renewable energy such as hydro, geothermal and wind”, which is a statement so extraordinary in its stupidity that I can’t believe even he said that.

In the first place hydro involves a lot of messing about with waterways and that can often involve unacceptable disruption to both the land and its natural inhabitants including plants and animals.

Geothermal is fine, but it is not readily available all over the country which means the construction of distribution systems which once again are likely to involve further disruptions to the environment.

Wind is good and even more renewable that the other two, but once again you are dealing with a system that requires distribution on a large scale whereas the very localised nature of solar power makes it much more practical and it poses no major disruption to the environment. Whether your house has an iron roof or a whole lot of solar panels really doesn’t make a lot of difference to the surrounding landscape.

The savings from the scheme the Greens are proposing would begin in the very first year and within a short time they would be providing most of those who took up the offer with free power for most if not all of their needs forever more. So what could possibly be wrong with that?

Well, I think I know ‘what is wrong with that”. It would mean smaller profits for the major energy companies and the industries that support them and ..... oh yes... the shareholders. But not the Mum and Dad investors that Jianqi and his merry men and women told us would buy these power shares, but the people who actually did buy them – those whose annual earnings sit in the top 1 percent of the population, along with major corporations and overseas investors. Boo- bloody hoo. In any case these people are in a position to cope with any loss of expectations they might suffer because of this and instead buy shares in solar technology companies.

There is also a prediction that this could result in 1000 new jobs although I am a bit more wary about that aspect as in my experience whenever politicians predict more jobs they tend to over-inflate the figures for effect. However it is quite clear from the comments made by those whose business it is to analyse these issues for a living that the basic figures regarding savings do stack up, and if you add in the lack of any environmental impact, then it is easy to see that we must go down this path. We should have started it decades ago, and there is certainly no sensible reason not to do it now.

I see the proposed scheme also involves setting up a system where homeowners would be able to sell their excess power to the grid for a reasonable price. But without legislation to compel the energy companies to honour that I suspect you would see very little movement there. However it would be an opportunity for enterprising folk to set up small scale power companies in various locations around the country to buy up and store that excess power to sell back to local bodies for their infrastructural needs such as street lighting and traffic lights.

I say let's power up. Power to the people and let’s see how many of us can short-circuit the power companies.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

NZ Idle – the new series

In the year 2014 our television screens are going to be dominated with much fuss and bother and spin leading up to our biggest ‘reality series’ of the year. This series differs somewhat from the plethora of programmes that fall under that description.

As an aside I find it interesting that the word ‘plethora’ was once used to describe an unhealthy excess and that these days it is often used to denote abundance. I feel that in this context the word should be taken to mean an unhealthy excess especially as i learn that it had a medical connection and was used to describe a condition caused by dilation of superficial blood vessels which was characterised by a reddish face.
However, I digress....

The ‘reality’ series of which I speak differs in that it is a recurring series which takes over our media every three years. Yes; you’ve guessed it. I am speaking of that rag tag bunch of idle self-serving gits who come seeking our approval to keep sucking at the nation’s tit for another three years.

Battle has already commenced with Little Bo Tox and Anne Offhertrolley trying to blow the Greens’ co-leaders house up into a mansion the size of their own dunnies and bitching about how much better she can look in expensive clothes than they both do.

Meanwhile Jianqi is rushing about turning over one stone after another trying to find enough slimy invertebrates to potentially form a coalition with. You’d have to wonder if there are any more possibles left now. Let’s consider those possibilities.  

·         The Acting Party have been pretty much squished out of contention following the demise of their only MP in this current Parliament and it is hard to see how their latest oddball will gain any traction over the next few months. The tea has been chucked out and I suspect that even a case of Red Bull won’t put any wings on that particular slug before November. He isn’t even the party leader so he will have to be operated by remote control from Acting Party headquarters. Mind you that would be less humiliating for him than being operated via Jianqi’s arm up his bum like his predecessor was. Should The Natsis choose to ‘gift’ the Epsom seat to these wallies again, it just might turn out to be the gift that doesn’t even give once never mind the one that keeps on giving.

·         Just what Peter Dung, the man with no real party has in mind this year, I have not heard. I seem to recall he was considering retiring a few months back. Mind you that was when he was still sitting on the naughty step and now that he is being welcomed back into the bosom (can I say that in this column?) of the Natsi Party he might reconsider that. However even if he does, and if the people of Johnsonville and Newlands are still in a coma and he wins; he will be there on his Todd Malone again. Neither of the other party members is likely to get elected and his voter will not be able to vote enough times to get them in on the party vote either.

·         What’s left of the Maori Parting is Te Ururoa Flavell and a couple of spaces where the other two sat. It is more of a comb-over than a parting now. In any case there is no guarantee they would wish to coalesce with the Natsis this time as they have suffered some pretty serious damage through their association with them over the last six years They could only manage to grab three seats after their first term supporting Jianqi and this time they will be starting all over again with a whole new set of candidates to try and support their only leftover from the previous hangi.

·         There has been a lot of talk about the Conservatively Dressed Party and I think that might well be all it turns out to be. These slightly manic types managed to pick up 2.65 percent of the party vote last time, which isn’t all that surprising really when you think about it. There must be at least that percentage of the population with undiagnosed stupidity. Ironically that meagre share of the party vote was still only 0.15 percent short of the combined party vote won by the current three coalition partners. However we must remember that it is still only slightly more than half of what they would need to get a seat unless they could manage to win an electorate seat. As we don’t have any electorates that are comprised of nothing but wacko people I would suggest the chances of that are not terrific. Leader Column Craig is certainly an odd individual and not really the sort who would inspire confidence in most sane people. He has a little of the aura that surrounds that new Acting Party twit. He seems the sort of bloke that might cause babies to cry as soon as they see him and the rest of us panic if we are left alone in a room with him.

·         This then (unless some amazing new party arises and sweeps the political right wingers off their feet) leaves the question of what will Winnie do? Winnie is always a dark horse or a dirty dog depending on how you see him. He plays his cards close to his chest at times like this until he can be absolutely sure which way the wind is going to blow. This way he keeps the door open for a ministerial warrant no matter who is behind that door. If he stays true to his party’s policies he would not be able to form a government with the Natsis without making some demand that would stick in their collective craw. However with the chains of office glinting in the sunlight Winnie could be swayed enough to jump into that big blue waka.
      So what of the opposition? It is abundantly clear the Laboured Party will not be able to do it alone. Although many think that is exactly what they have been doing for some time.
      But I digress again. Or is that regress when you do it for a second time?
      The point is that Laboured will need some friends in the house if they are to warm the treasury benches again as they have again chosen a useless leader who unfortunately will probably make an even more useless Prime Minotaur should they pull this feat off. He has shown an ability of late to launch himself out of the starting gates with a policy headline before his minders have had a chance to teach him his lines.  
      So who are the friends of the Laboured Party?
      I guess the most obvious one is the Greens who have been growing faster than my tomatoes in this climate. They would be the next largest polling party after the Nats and the Labs and a long way ahead of any of the others. Their participation in a Labour led Government goes without saying. The only unknown around them is how many players they would bring to the game.
      However this is where it gets interesting. Outside of the Greens; who would Labour be able to form a coalition with? 
      Unless Winnie goes with them they would probably not have enough seats to be able to do it. They might of course win the support of the Maori Party this time, but how much use that would be given the current state of that party is another matter. It could conceivably add only one seat to the mix.
      There is of course the matter of Hone and his little one-man band. He would never be courted by National and so the possibility exists for him to be asked to be part of a Labour led coalition. However I think he would be the last one picked for the game if he was and I think they would do well to consider what problems he could cause if he became disenchanted or had another of his famous brain explosions.    
      To sum up, I think the Laboured lot need to devise a decent strategy now. If I was in charge of that strategy I would be building a bloody great big bridge with the Maori Party and suggesting to them that a widely advertised intention to form a coalition with Labour would give them a better chance of getting more seats in the upcoming viewers’ vote and I would be offering Winnie some very cool robes of office and advising him to follow the same course of action that I had suggested to the Maori Party.
      It will be interesting (in an academic sort of way). But jeez it will be sickening for the most part. Stock up on bicarb I say.