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AGL's shame
What AGL could be doing
What motivates AGL?

Is AGL environmentally responsible?

AGL are very strong on spruiking their 'environmental credentials'. Are they as green as they would have us believe?

They recognise that anthropogenic (man-made) climate change is a fact and that serious action is needed to reduce greenhouse emissions if our grandchildren are to have a world that is not greatly damaged, but do AGL's actions match its rhetoric?

This page shows:

  • What AGL are doing right now:
    • AGL's existing polluting 'assets';
    • AGL's existing initiatives in renewable energy.
  • What they could be doing:
    • There are coal-fired power stations they could shut-down;
    • They could be doing much more in changing from fossil fuel power generation to renewables.
Individuals, small businesses, district councils, big corporations like AGL, state and national governments all have a responsibility to reduce the greenhouse emissions for which they are responsible.

This page was written 2017/04/27, modified 2017/05/24
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com (David K. Clarke) – ©
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Introduction

 
Turbine
A wind turbine at Snowtown
What negatives do AGL have in their record?
  • They own and/or run fossil-fuelled power stations that produce more greenhouse gasses than any other company, see AGL's shame, below;
  • AGL lobbied to reduce or remove the Renewable Energy Target;
  • They are 'sitting on' wind farms projects in areas with high potential that could be developed, stopping other companies from developing them – for example Barn Hill, which is adjacent to Snowtown, the most productive wind farm in Australia.
What positives do AGL have in their record?
  • Big solar farms at Nyngan (102MW) and Broken Hill (53MW);
  • A solar power with battery trial in Adelaide, involving up to 1000 batteries in homes with solar power, claimed to be "the world's largest virtual power plant";
  • AGL has interests in several wind farms: Macarthur (420MW), Oaklands Hill (63MW), Hallett (351MW), Wattle Point (91MW) and in May 2017 they commenced construction of Silverton. They have proposed a wind farm at Coopers Gap, but that's just talk at the time of writing (2017/04/29);
  • AGL has committed to close down all their coal-fired power stations – by 2050; far later than they must be shut down if disastrous climate change is to be averted!


AGL's shame

 
Fossil-fuelled power stations that AGL either owns or
has major interests in
NameStateFuelCapacity (MW)
BayswaterNSWBlack coal2640
DiamantinaQueenslandGas151
LiddellNSWBlack coal2000
Loy YangVictoriaBrown coal3000
Torrens IslandSouth AustraliaGas1280
SomertonVictoriaGas160
YabuluQueenslandGas121
 
Hazelwood Power Station (not connected with AGL) was the most polluting in Australia, but shut down at the end of March 2017. A clever and informative net page on the shutting down of Hazelwood, and the consequent reduction in air pollution, is at Is Hazelwood online?.
Loy Yang brown-coal-fired power stations (A and B), rated at a total of 3000 MW taken together, are the biggest and most polluting power stations in Australia. The Loy Yang Power Stations burn the most polluting type of coal used for power generation in Australia, brown coal, and produce 26.6 million tonnes of greenhouse CO2 a year.

Bayswater Power Station emits 13.3 million tonnes of CO2 per annum, making it the second most greenhouse polluting power station in Australia.

Loy Yang and Bayswater are owned by AGL.

 
Emissions from power generation
Pollution
From The Dirty Dozen, GetUp!
Finally, AGL is responsible for far more greenhouse gas pollution than any other company in Australia, as shown in the graph on the right.

(See The Dirty Dozen, GetUp!)

Another production worth a look, and good for a chuckle, 350.org have produced a video satirising AGL's greenwash.

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What AGL could be doing

 
Sundrop Farms
Sundrop Farms solar
A solar thermal power development at Port Augusta which is integrated into a greehouse tomato-growing business. This sort of innovation is the way of the future.
Instead of lobbying to reduce the Renewable Energy Target, AGL could lobby to increase it.

AGL should, and must, bring forward their date by which they will shut down their last coal-fired power station. This is at present set at 2050, the latest responsible date would perhaps be 2030.

They could be lobbying for the Federal Government to legislate a substantial price on carbon emissions. This would introduce more certainty into the electricity market, to everyone's advantage, including their own.

They could be developing pumped-hydro energy storage systems (pumped-hydro, rather than batteries, is where the great majority of the world's energy storage is). This could not only be a money earner for them, it would allow them, and anyone else, to develop more intermitant renewable energy.

They could speed-up their development of wind power projects that they have proposed but done nothing with (for example, Barn Hill).

They could encourage more people to install solar power on their roofs by increasing the amount they pay for solar power from the present $0.061 to at least the $0.08 paid by others, for example, Diamond Energy. (See SolarChoice.)

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What motivates AGL?

 
AGL's Nyngan Solar Farm; a good start, but AGL has a long way to go.
Solar farm
 

Personal responsibility

Consumption is correlated to greenhouse gas emissions; the more we consume, the more emissions we are responsible for. With an annual income of $7 million, I wonder how much greenhouse gas Mr Vesey is personally responsible for?
 

Value for money: maximising happiness

Research has shown that, beyond an income that is sufficient to provide material needs, more money produces very little increase in hapiness. So Mr Vesey's $7m would probably not make him significantly more happy than if he was paid $1m. On the other hand, I would think that many of AGL's 3400 employees' day-to-day financial concerns would be reduced by an extra $1760 each year.

The gathering of excessive wealth into the hands of a very few people is unethical. Also see my notes on contribution to society and societal dysfunction and cancer.

AGL's day-to-day running is controlled by Chief Executive Officer Andy Vesey (who receives nearly $7 million dollars a year for his efforts). Corporate bosses, it seems to me, are motivated by greed and self-interest. No one needs anything like $7 million dollars a year; the fact that they take so much money from the company that they work for when they have no need for it, and when it could do far more good if a part of it went to the lower-paid of the company employees, seems to show a very low standard of personal ethics. Consider that if Mr Vesey was to take one million rather than seven million a year, each of AGL's 3,400 employees could have a pay rise of $1,760 a year.

To retain his job with its obscene salary Mr Vesey has to satisfy the shareholders and board of AGL by maximising company profits.

Anyone with half a brain can see that the coal industry is facing its end days. Mr Vesey has certainly seen this and realises that the future of electricity generation will be in renewable energy, so he is trying to juggle the need to make as much money out of AGL's coal-dependent assets as possible at the same time as moving, slowly, toward renewables.

Mr Vesey also has to retain as many of AGL's customers and shareholders as he can. There is a shift of electricity consumers toward more responsible power suppliers who offer renewably-generated electricity, such as Diamond and Momentum. Many investors are concerned about the ethical implications of where their money is invested; there is a substantial movement away from companies that have soiled images toward 'ethical investment'. Green-washing AGL's image is an effort to retain these power consumers and ethical investors.

Considering all of this, it would seem that whatever efforts AGL is making toward greening its image are motivated by pecuniary interests, not by any conscientious or ethical concerns.



Index

AGL's shame
Introduction
What motivates AGL?
What AGL could be doing


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