Energy Spot flaws

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) seems to believe that we’re causing global warming and we must be stopped.

The alternative is that they’re really trying to save us money. But it’s impossible to accept that they really want the best for us. As the old joke puts it: “I’m from the government; I’m here to help you.” Ha ha.

EECA spends about $130,000,000 a year (p48). In the year ended June 2012 the actual expenditure was $123,016,000 against a budget of $155,761,000 from revenue of $127,926,000 (budget was $154,600,000). I don’t yet know where all the money goes. Through the “Energy Spot” they tell us we spend too much on electricity, although they don’t mention that could be due to constant price hikes from the “national” power stations our fathers and grandfathers proudly paid for, rather than actual increases in the cost of generating electricity. [The original comment here said that our power stations now have private owners, but that's wrong. The shareholder is our government. My apologies. - RT] They also nag us nightly to use less petrol and they hand out government subsidies for biodiesel and an experimental wave power device.

There’s a lot to investigate there, but here’s a first look at a bit of the lunacy. This made TV3 News in June last year without being detected by those ace reporters, who instead faithfully fed us the line they got from EECA and announced:

New Zealanders waste over $100 million a year leaving appliances on standby instead of turning them off at the wall.

Wow! What a trivial activity, but that’s a lot of money, isn’t it? Is it? We need to put this in some perspective.

New Zealand’s population is 4,400,000. A national expenditure of $100,000,000 therefore represents

  • $22.73 each per year
  • $0.437 each per week
  • for a 5-person household, it’s $2.19 per week

This is beneath trivial, and it’s certainly beneath our dignity to respond to. Our bureaucrats should not be wasting their time with this, and our highly-trained reporters have missed a great story. For they ought to have seen that the story here was the monumental waste of time and money by our government agency (EECA) in expensively exhorting us all to avoid a minor expenditure.

I say to EECA: Go away and stop bothering me with trifles, stop spending my tax money on useless feel-good social engineering and please use it for something worthwhile. Like building another power station.

I spent a moment finding a rival triviality for comparison. I came up with jam.

What about the jam?

Many people throw away jam jars without properly harvesting all the jam. Same with peanut butter, marmite, honey and mustard pickle. There are many others, including shampoo and dishwashing liquid, although they’re not food, but they still cost money.

How much could be saved by the nation each year if these jars were cleaned out properly and the food or product consumed, not wasted? By my calculation, it’s something like this:

Cost of 375 gm jar of jam: $4.00 (roughly)
Number of jars of jam consumed per person per year: 5 (roughly).
Amount of jam left in each jar on disposal: 10 gm (2.7% of 375 gm).
National jam residue: 220,000,000 grams per year (220 tonnes), or 587,000 jars.
National value: $2,348,000.

Assuming similar calculations for the four other products mentioned means the total cost of the wasted spreads is about $11,740,000.

For each of us, that’s $2.67 PER YEAR (sorry to shout).

It’s also 12% of the amount spent for electricity on appliances standing by. The mind boggles. How much more are we squandering merely by being alive? Oh, the waste!

The government spends tens of thousands of dollars on the Energy Spot TV advertisements (I’ll try to pin this down), and it should not be wasted but be put to good use, yet 44 cents per week is a trivial amount for us to spend on the convenience of having our appliances spark up the moment we want them. The government is audacious in using our pennies to dispense a fortune to broadcasters to grizzle at us to save pennies. It pays to own a television station.

It’s interesting that Energy Spot doesn’t always mention the harm to the planet arising from our use of energy. In the Kiwi context, that’s scarcely surprising, considering 70% of our electricity generation is renewable hydro. Unique in the world. Harmless to the world.

You idiots

Stop bothering us with trifles, you idiots, and get a real job.

If we need another power station don’t sit around blaming us for becoming more numerous and using more power. Just build the power station.

Otherwise you’ll lose your job and we’ll find competent people to do it for us instead.

You see, your job is not, as you seem to believe, to save the planet from dubious dangers — it is to serve our needs. As public servants, you really should embrace this.

Public servants serve the public and everything you do must be supported by evidence.

18 Thoughts on “Energy Spot flaws

  1. Their section on renewable energy is rather interesting.

    Working with Regional and District Councils to identify what renewable energy resources they have in their area, and how to integrate these into their planning and strategy processes.
    Undertaking public opinion surveys on attitudes to renewable energy
    Helping to reduce compliance costs for small-scale renewable energy technologies by providing targeted information to local government
    Providing public information on renewable energy technologies in New Zealand
    Providing information on renewable transport energy options, including biofuels and electric vehicles
    Undertaking targeted research or studies on energy supply issues in New Zealand.
    Raising awareness of the benefits and costs of distributed generation in New Zealand.

    and further on

    Working with and supporting renewable energy industries in New Zealand

    Renewable energy industries include:

    New Zealand Wind Energy Association
    Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand
    Solar Association of New Zealand
    New Zealand Geothermal Association
    Aotearoa Wave and Tidal Energy Association.

    What I see missing is any debate around the downsides of various renewable options, e.g whether they actually achieve any CO2 emissions reductions, what is the cost/benefit, what impact will the schemes have on electricity prices, what impact will the schemes have on the environment and the eco-system (e.g wind and biofuels)

    In essence, this is a tax-payer funded industry lobby group.

    • In essence, this is a tax-payer funded industry lobby group”

      Yep, and it isnt the only one we have. All stacked with useless people whose sole job seems to be to extract more money off us.
      Check out the scams the anti smoking lobby get away with. And NIWA…..

  2. It may be a typo but the population of NZ is around 4.5 million not 5.4 million cheers

    • It’s a mistake, not a typo. When I searched for “population of nz” yesterday the number was a little over 5,400,000. Today it’s 4,400,000.

      I’ll redo the maths, which will decrease the total annual cost, and I don’t think my conclusions will change. Thanks for the tip, Dave.

  3. I wonder how organisations will reposition themselves once the lights start going out in the UK

  4. Richard C (NZ) on February 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm said:

    >”EECA spends about $130,000,000 a year. I don’t yet know where all the money goes.”

    Did a double take at this so had to check it out:-

    Expenditure [$000] [Actual 2012, Budget 2012, Actual 2011]
    Personnel 11,114 11,048 11,330
    Operational grants 5,199 10,431 7,424
    Crown grants 87,311 115,024 70,312 [Grants out]
    Other operating expenses 3 18,699 18,570 23,477
    Depreciation 4 252 271 244
    Amortisation 5 441 417 60
    Capital charge 6 – – 222
    Total expenditure 123,016 155,761 113,069

    http://www.eeca.govt.nz/sites/all/files/eeca-annual-report-web-2011-2012.pdf

    Revenue also shows Crown grants 87,199 [Grants in]

    Total grant commitments [$000]: [2012, 2011] [Grants out]
    Electricity Efficiency 3,414 1,961
    Business 970 2,122
    Solar Water Heating 25 322
    Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart 56,924 71,917
    Wood Energy 507 693
    Marine Fund 2,891 2,621
    Total commitments 64,731 79,636

    Not sure where the other $20m went to but hey – what’s 20 mill anyway?

    BTW, I switch channels when the EECA preacher starts a sermon. They run on other channels simultaneously so I end up on 4, Prime, Central – or the internet.

  5. We can’t really say that 100 million dollars is beneath trivial and then complain about a Quango spending 100 million of our money each year.

    Some of their stuff is ok in my view, like supporting home insulation. But I really wonder why they need so much money to do this.

    • Richard C (NZ) on February 26, 2013 at 8:28 am said:

      >”Some of their stuff is ok in my view, like supporting home insulation. But I really wonder why they need so much money to do this.”

      Yes, I’m all for energy efficiency but after all the advertising and browbeating, where are the solar water heaters on the tops of all the houses in new subdivisions? Endless repetition of what people already know wont move people if they have no intention of buying in anyway.

      There has never been a buy-in momentum in New Zealand to sensible energy saving measures. That is why so much insulation, double glazing etc is retrofit. People are more inclined to allocate their funding to a larger house, carpets, snazzy taps and such like..

    • When I left the UK 22 years ago, double glazing, central heating, and of course, insulation, was the norm for most houses.

      I am still retrofitting insulation and heating here in NZ today.

      The housing stock in NZ is quite poor in this respect, but a lot of change can be driven by building regulations, which it is anyway I think.

      There are state-side benefits of having properly insulated houses in terms of a healthier population, which in turn reduces the burden on health providers.

      Grants are available for insulation, but these are means tested I think.

      However, I really don’t see why we need this Quango, especially buying ad time in prime time TV slots. This would appear to be a waste of public money.

  6. Alexander K on March 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm said:

    Successive NZ Governments seem to leave in their wake a trail of ‘initiatives’ that are designed to place a large number of individuals in work as permanent staffing of Quangos, each Quango doing nothing more than perpetuating each particular ‘initiative’. Each Quango comes fully equipped with a supply of grants and the skills and knowledge to acquire more. These are nothing more than the normal trappings of a Socialist State which is terrified of private enterprise and which can create and control everything, with the exception of worthwhile, productive industries which produce real goods that will enrich the nation-state rather than feed off it. The situation, sadly, is normal. These Quangos are a brilliant device for soaking up unemployment, too!

  7. John Robertson on March 4, 2013 at 5:15 pm said:

    Bureaucrats are like weevils, they build more bureaus so their population can grow.
    If money is collected by government under threat of violence or restriction its a tax.
    If an agency is funded by govt, its a government bureaucracy, regardless what name is used.
    Government employees never pay tax, they are lied to about their rate of pay.(same pocket)
    These Quango’s are nothing more than payback your supporter systems, using taxpayers money.
    The management and directors will all be political hacks and moneymen.
    The staff? Most likely true believers with zero work experience.
    This EECA sounds like a classic waste of skin operation.
    These off shoots of the CAGW religion are every where.
    And never mind the $20 million, your political masters needed it more than you.

    • Mike Jowsey on March 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm said:

      We need true leadership. Too many caretaker, puppet prime ministers in succession. NZ needs real cuts in bureaucracy and welfare – get back to a budget surplus and stop selling off assets that our grandfathers paid for and built. And stop pandering to the Maori elite. Where is the leadership?

    • The problem with leadership is that we – NZ – and the west in general – have been overly pandering to the welfare system.

      The point we have reached in the USA and the UK is that the majority are on some kind of government handout and will vote for the party that gives the most handouts. In effect, society cannibalizes itself. Crazy “right wing” talk I know

      Unfortunately, I don’t see an easy or a happy outcome to this. History tells us that it will end in war or revolution.

      FA Hayek – The Road to Serfdom, is a sobering read, because it feels like it has been written today, yet was written a long time ago

      NZ is at least lucky that we have plenty of natural resources – hydro power, fertile land etc.

      We recently had dinner with our “salt of the earth” neighbours, where everything on the table was hand grown or hand produced by them: lamb, veges and wine.

      It restored my faith in humanity, briefly at least

    • Mike Jowsey on March 4, 2013 at 7:23 pm said:

      Careful Andy! Lewandowsky might write a paper about you. Or me too, because I agree with everything you say. Many of my friends and neighbours up here in North Canterbury are growing huge gardens, raising stock for milk, wool and meat, and finding out ways to become more and more self-sufficient (power included). It just makes sense. At our house have probably 100 dinners a year where everything served is off our land. Most of the other dinners have some portion of our own produce. It’s organic, hard labour, and immensely satisfying. I’m not a “preper” by any stretch, but it makes sense to distance oneself from reliance on the supermarkets, banks and bureaucracies.

  8. John in NZ on March 5, 2013 at 6:50 am said:

    The greens are attacking Fonterra for wanting to use coal.

    They say “The crux of the argument is that coal adds to anthropomorphic climate change when more sustainable fuels could be used. ”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/8380942/Protesters-take-on-Fonterra-over-coal

    Anthropomorphic?

  9. Clarence on March 29, 2013 at 1:19 pm said:

    Environmentalism is a noble cause but is never well executed. It relies on a simple monochromatic world, that ignores the myriad interconnections of both science and economics.

    I like this brief passage from Matt Ridley:

    “Because we get coal out of the ground, we do not have to cut down forests; because we use petroleum we don’t have to kill whales for their oil; because we use gas to make fertilizer we don’t have to cultivate so much land to feed the world”.

    It reminds me of the numerous emails which enjoin me to avoid printing so as to save the trees. The object is to allow pinus radiata plantations to age a little more before being replanted. But how does this help the environment or the economy?

    The aging pines will extract less CO2 than a vigorous young replacement and forestry workers (as well as all those downstream workers) lose their jobs.

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