Friday, November 23, 2007

FUD from Genesis

When I moved into my new flat, it was connected to Genesis Electricity. Getting the bill put in my name resulted in the remains of several trees being delivered to me in the form of bills, corrected bills, bumph, "charity" begging, etc. Destroying the planet is a hard job, but somebody's got to do it.

Amongst the bumph was a document with the following statement, which is repeated at their website:

We know that New Zealanders are concerned about future generation. So we are committed to keeping the energy coming. If lake levels drop we can rely on our other energy sources such as wind and thermal energy.

Now, that would suggest to me a claim that where other generators might cut power in a crisis, Genesis would be able to keep their customers going. That's how I read it anyway.

So I checked this fact with somebody in the industry. Can the customers of power generators be selectively connected / disconnected from the mains? (perhaps in the same way as your hot water tank gets turned off at peak times through a device called a ripple relay).

Nope - can't be done either technically or legally.

So basically, Genesis are putting out a blatantly misleading statement to sell power. As a customer and shareholder (they're an SOE) I object to this.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

It’s no less dishonest than any of Meridian’s claims about West Wind providing 90% of Wellington’s energy (let alone their 100% renewable if you ignore their big coal burner in Dunedin).


Genesis are not being misleading. They are correct. the system is designed to balance, so if there is not enough supply then either generation will increase or load will be dropped via a power cut.

Meridian finds it difficult to generate at full capacity at times because of lake levels. They are almost completely dependent on hydro. So if they can’t generate, someone else has to pick up their shortfall or power has to be cut. Genesis (along with other thermal generators) usually have the capacity to pick up the slack because they are not water constrained.

Note that they are talking about generation not distribution and retailing. The reality is electrons don’t much care where they go or who is the customer, as you point out.

Insider

MikeE said...

What they say is correct and incorrect at the same time due to the way the electricity market operates, with all energy going on to the market and then being sold to the retailers.

So they increase their security by having diversified generation options for baseload and variable generation.

But rather than increasing secrutiy for you as a customer it does it for the entire market. So the security is diluted if ther are more generators that are relying on say wind or PV.

By the same token, if there is diversified genration across the board (say solid energy with coal, meridian with wind and hydro, genesis with thermal, wind etc) then the mix is diversified enough to hedge risk anyway. So it achieves the same thign as genesis diversifying the mix on a contry basis.

Rich said...

I think the way the statement was phrased was deliberately ambiguous, but (particularly in the printed brochure) was implying that if you go with Genesis, you will have better security of supply than with other suppliers.

Incidentally, what coal-burning power station in Dunedin? I can't find any reference to it anywhere, and they're hard things to hide..

Anonymous said...

Rich

It's called Meridian Solutions Dunedin Energy Centre and is a plant that provides steam to the hospital and its laundry and a few other businesses. Meridian runs it and has been criticised for conveniently leaving it out of its publicity on its renewable power generation. At 30MW it is a reasonable sized operation

http://www.propserv.otago.ac.nz/Web/shared/LatestDocument.aspx?path=Newsletters&file=PSNews2005-05.pdf

Insider

Jessica Moh said...

My hope is a great ..... GOOD FUTURE