Edward Mandla

Published On: 08/12/2014

Passage of this project is now a well-worn path and the facts are familiar to you all.

We are seeking to install power generation equipment retrofitted to the top of Town Hall House. A gas turbine engine, similar to a jet engine, will generate electricity only during business hours. Outside of business hours, we’ll continue to use old-fashioned electricity from the apparently “evil grid”.

This installation will be a hallmark of this administration. It has consumed large amounts of resources in terms of blood and treasure getting to this point. My opposition to it is well known and tonight I will simply tell you why it’s a bad idea.

Even if you accept that it will save $320,000 a year in electricity, it will not come anywhere near to recovering its installation cost over the 20 year life of the asset, let alone the ten million dollars we spent on Consultants on top of that. I don’t need a fancy Consultant’s report, just a cheap calculator.

The starting point has been that we already have a grid to connect to, with business hours peak demand supplied through green energy if we want it.

We’re a Local Government, not a utility. We don’t need to make our own electricity.

KPMG told us that in their report but a Google search would have told us for nothing. Even a Parliamentary Inquiry told us this for nothing when then labelled our trigeneration efforts as “reckless”.

Broad based public support for this was not as it has been sold. When I inquired by way of Question On Notice what the public consultation was for spending over 20 million dollars, I was told in June that it was a sample of 500 people. I asked for the polling, it hasn’t been provided.

You would hardly describe that as the height of probative research.

The idea behind this boondoggle is that it will reduce emissions. How exactly, is a mystery, when we’ll be burning gas at the top of the building, releasing emissions, none of which we planned on telling our neighbours about because that too was supposed to be confidential.

It has concerned me greatly that most of the material detailing the expenditure and rationale in this project has been the subject of Section 10A of the Local Government Act and made confidential.

It seems we let the Ratepayers pay for this but won’t tell them why, just that it’s good for them and we know best. That’s the motto for City of Sydney - Scimus Optima – we know best.

We certainly do. Ostensibly the purpose of this is to reduce emissions and save the planet. It seems it will actually increase emissions slightly and the planet will be no different.

One trigeneration plant on a city office building is going to make no difference at all. It will leave the Taxpayer out of pocket and will have denied the people of this city tens of millions of dollars in services we would otherwise have provided them.

In short, no business case, no environmental benefit, concocted consent upon an economic orphan. This is plainly poor public policy, but I’ll let the voter be the judge in twenty-one months time.

Edward Mandla
December 2014

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