Edward Mandla

Published On: 23/06/2014

There hasn’t been a more controversial item in Council than Trigeneration. I’ve stood on the front lines with Cr Forster trying to make sense of the mounds of papers thrust upon us.

Trigeneration started as a great Iceberg, precinct trigeneration and the City of Sydney piping hot water around the LGA.

As it is with Icebergs, the detail lay below in the chilly water.

The plans ended up in tatters and not before the NSW Public Accounts Committee’s report on Polygeneration labelled the City of Sydney’s spending of $10M on consultants reports as reckless.

The iceberg melted to an icicle and we were going to sell chilled water to the QVB and surrounding buildings.

We didn’t need to spend more money theorising how this would work.

As I requested, all we had to do was ask the QVB whether they wanted to buy our water. They didn’t. Something about no business case.

So today, Trigeneration has melted to a mere ice cube – Town Hall House and Town Hall. But still an ice cube measured in tens of millions.

It’s nothing more than a classic Boondoggle.

A boondoggle is a project that is considered a useless waste of both time and money, yet is often continued due to extraneous policy motivations. It’s a bridge over a river that does not exist or a road to nowhere.

I have had the opportunity of reading the Preliminary Business Case and AECOM report.

I can repeat the sentiment of the concerned Facilities Manager, Mr Preston that addressed Committees last week.

“If you have not read or do not understand either of these documents you should not vote for this proposal, and if you have read them and do understand them you would never vote for this proposal.”

The Preliminary Business case review is riddled with qualifications and concerns, enough on their own to bring this to a screeching halt.

Let’s put to one side for a moment that the KPMG report is marked “Draft” from beginning to end.

The first qualification appears on the first page and is repeated elsewhere, which warns that KPMG have treated the AECOM report like a drunken sailor with a lamp post, all support and no illumination.

They have relied completely on someone else’s assumptions.

AECOM have similarly qualified their report.

Weighing in at a whopping 151 tons, this equipment does not even supply total electricity usage, just daytime peak business consumption.

And where do we get the rest of the electricity we use outside this time? From the grid of course.

1,997 Megawatts per annum, or 38% of our total electricity requirements will still be sourced from the grid.

You have to wonder what the point of this is.

Let’s move on. At page 5 of the KPMG report we are informed that this is just a general review, not the iron clad assurance we were led to believe it was, making this nothing more than an expensive musing.

We are warned again in the review at page 14 that the model does not include additional capital expenditure required at years 10-15, and the one I like the best, which like all bad news in a report, is contained on the last page in a vain hope it will be overlooked, that’s page 28.

In black and white it tells us that, and I quote directly from the report “the net cost of carbon abatement exceeds the current cost of green power”.

There is therefore a real and present risk that this project is complete Voodoo environmentalism.

It’s cheaper for Council to buy Green power from someone who knows how to provide it, and that someone is not us.

And then let’s consider some rather salient matters in the AECOM report that have been overlooked at page 8 in table 2.2.

You would hope that having spent all this money that the system actually worked!

The proposed system has only 92% - 97% availability and that’s when it’s turned on – remember we switch it off at night, on weekends and when our demand is low. In other words, we have a system with 57% - 60% real availability.

So we have to tell Ratepayers with a straight face that have spent tens of millions of dollars on this system, and it wont do what it supposed to do for effectively nearly five months of every year, and we chose it over Greenpower off the grid with virtually 100% reliability.

How stupid will they think we are?

So apart from the fact that this makes no environmental sense, and its financial merits are Voodoo economics as there is absolutely no payback, we are being asked to press on with this absurd exercise with a religious fervour that favours zealotry over inquiry and kitchen table common sense.

It is time to defrock the High Priests of this insanity.

I will not stand with this proposal, as it is a betrayal of our obligations to our Constituents and good Governance.

Those that wish to do so will remember this moment; as I will repeatedly remind you of it should this proposal proceed.

I will see to it that you will wear it like a crown of thorns upon which you will be crucified.

Edward Mandla
June 2014

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