Michael Gunter, medical practitioner, Green Power producer, and scrutineer of electricity industry ethics was labelled "voltscommissar" by a North American electrical engineer for daring to challenge the industry about the effect of supply voltage on electricity utility revenues.
Contents:Energy and the Environment: Clean power vs. dirty power.
Understanding what high voltage can do to your power bill
with technical references
What can we do in response to September 11, 2001?(in Arabic and English)
Energy and the Environment:
- New evidence against Daylight Savings Time (Excel 5.0 spreadsheet, 123 kB) This spreadsheet analyses data from official Australian electricity industry sources, and demonstrates a significant effect of Daylight Savings Time in flattening the daily load profile of electricity consumption in Victoria, Australia. The author concludes that this plays into the hands of baseload electricity generation companies, by facilitating their market penetration (presently running at over 80% of market share). Baseload generators are generally more polluting in terms of greenhouse gas emissions or intractable nuclear fission waste, and on environmental grounds it would be better to (i) abolish Daylight Savings Time, (ii) reduce off-peak and night-time voltages to 230 volts to honestly reflect the new Voltage Standard AS 60038, and (iv) slap a hefty carbon tax or fissile waste tax on all off-peak electricity tariffs. What is the point of having allegedly "cheap" electricity if the technology is poisoning the planet for future generations? The spreadsheet data is also available as a PDF file(51 kB).
- Tactical Nuclear Warfare for Beginners. (a do-it-yourself solar hot water project) How to compete with devastating economic efficiency against polluting infrastructure projects in a deregulated energy market. The example given is how solar water heating must seize market share from baseload electricity demand. Tasmanians were, until 21 September 2001, eligible to enter the draw for a $10,000 cash reward for installing this hot water system on their home. The lucky winner was Mr Wilhelm von Bernburg of Lucaston (Huon Valley, Tasmania). Congratulations Wilhelm!
- The Voltscommissar's submission to the Victorian Greenhouse Strategy review/development process. The spectre of legal action against polluters on the grounds of "trans-generational genocide" is postulated as a not-inconceivable possibility, depending on future levels of certainty in climate science or regarding the CAUSALITY OF ACTUAL EVENTS.
- Are you looking for the Mini Maximiser? This amazing gadget can really save your bacon when it comes to getting the best performance from solar photovoltaic cells, especially in the applications of driving electric motors, air fans and/or water pumps under conditions of partial sun or even bright overcast conditions. Electronic hobby stores can supply the necessary parts, and instructions on construction are online here.
- July 2000: The northern hemisphere swelters during this hot Y2K summer, leading to electricity shortages, blackouts, and massive economic losses. Now upgraded as an article on this web site, plans for empowering consumers with a solar powered evaporative cooler were posted in an earlier format/edition at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Science Forum web site. This device has the potential to save lives during a heatwave, if market forces cannot deliver reliability of supply to the elderly and young children during extreme summer weather. Build your own for US$500 with these free plans. If you choose to run the unit briefly only during emergency situations, it can be operated from an ordinary 12 volt car battery for up to twelve hours, in which case the cost without any photovoltaic solar panel is reduced to around US$150.
- June 2000: The Basslink proposal for an HVDC undersea cable to link Tasmania to Australia's east coast "National Electricity Market" has frightening potential to increase Australia's greenhouse gas emissions: "Basslink sucks coal out of the ground." would be fair comment, according to this analysis.
- March 2000: HERE is a hypertext copy of my November 1999 submission to the (Australian) Senate Inquiry into the adequacy of Australia's response to global warming. The submission calls for all home owners to invest in nuclear technology - the safe and proven nuclear fusion technology of solar water heaters. The submission goes on to suggest that the fossil energy industries have deliberately misled the public, bureaucrats and politicians about the wisdom of investing in tax-free, pollution-free, and money-saving rooftop nuclear fusion technology. The return on investment will only improve once the Goods and Services Tax starts to bite our fossil-based energy bills. Incidentally the submission also calls for the abolition of the Electricity Supply Association of Australia because of its atrocious performance on matters of public interest and greenhouse gas emission reduction.
- 18 November 1998: 2% renewable electricity by 2010. The scheme chosen by the Australian Greenhouse Office will have a profound impact on the final cost. Market distortions must be removed to allow the true value of distributed electricity generation ("embedded generation") to be transacted.
- 5 August 1998: Wind farms are coming. Exciting economic prospects for Victoria wind energy. This analysis claims that wind energy looks attractive even in the current depressed wholesale market (NEM1).
- 12 April 1998: Implementation of the privatised National Electricity Market is turning into an environmental disaster.
- 6 January 1998: Do power stations cause severe bushfires? Local tropospheric plumes from power stations could be "seeding" regional forests with carbon during wet seasons, and severely exacerbating bushfires during subsequent el Niņo droughts.
- Wind energy development in Australia is about 20 years behind Europe and the USA. Most of the coastline of the Australian continent has a world-class wind resource, currently only being exploited in a few scattered places. To keep abreast of recent developments, visit the Australian Wind Energy Association's web site.
- In 1987 the Victorian Wind Monitoring Study Report was published. It seems to have had a very limited distribution. To redress this situation, an electronic version can now be viewed here (with important notes, containing links to wind data files).
- A donation to the Alternative Technology Association's Renewable Energy Development Trust is a highly effective way to support environmental education and sustainable development. Donations from Australian residents are tax deductible. Simply make a cheque out to "Renewable Energy Development Trust" and snail-mail it to Alternative Technology Association, PO Box 2001, Lygon Street North, Brunswick East, 3056 Australia. A special receipt will be promptly returned to you: retain it for tax time!
- A solar water heater on your roof can save up to 5,000 kg of CO2 every year (this claim is based on fifteen years' monitoring of my own 5m2 solar water heater in suburban Melbourne, compared with a standard "off-peak" electric water heater.)
Savvy electricity customers understand voltage:
- September 2001: Federal Court Hands Down Decision on "Electricity as a Good" (commodity). Mr Justice Finn's judgement is online at Austlii. In a nutshell, the Competition and Consumer Commission won on the complex legal technicalities. The ESAA technical expert reports and affidavits to the Federal Court appeared to have serious factual errors and omissions regarding the physical properties of electricity, and specifically the way that voltage can affect customers' power bills was completely ingnored due to the failure to mention Ohm's Law or its implications for consumers' energy bills. The Expert's description of current, power and voltage was particularly "illuminating" (!):
159. The voltage of the supply is a measure of the power which is given up by 1 Ampere of electric current moving from the active to the neutral conductor. [sic, double checked] The voltage is always present while the power system is healthy.The court case is disappointing that it has not adequately addressed the technical issues, but at least now that the judgement has been handed down, consumers are free to challenge the electricity industry through the courts to recover money that has been paid in excessive power bills. Overbilling is due to the distribution networks being operated, whether intentionally or not, at an average voltage which has been set at a significantly higher voltage than the product description (240 volts, soon to be 230 volts), where the industry demonstrably has the infrastructure to provide the correct lower voltage if they chose to do so.
- Any person who is curious about the electricity supply voltage to their house MUST NOT attempt to measure the voltage UNLESS they are over 18 years of age, have extensive experience and/or qualifications to handle lethal voltages, and their mental abilities are not impaired by fatigue, alcohol or drugs. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!
- "Twinkle, twinkle little star......." For a spoken introduction to the supply voltage problem, hear the radio interview of Michael Gunter, broadcast on 5AA Adelaide 11th August 2000. Interviewer: Leon Byner. The audio copyright holder is Bilote Pty Ltd, whose permission to have the RealAudio file online is acknowledged with thanks.
- In late August 1999 the Victorian Regulator-General convened a technical meeting between myself and two electricity distribution businesses. My 20-minute presentation is now online here: Voltage is a Market Issue. It shows how a three per cent increase in average supply voltage from 240 volts to 247.5 volts could easily be costing commercial and domestic customers in this state (Victoria, Australia) $60 million in extra electricity alone. Then there's the cost of all the blown light globes and appliances with a shortened lifespan.
- The Scam of the Decade? Secret electricity industry plans will increase the running cost of LOTS of your appliances by up to EIGHTEEN PER CENT (TWENTY-NINE PER CENT with GST added). Issue Number 68 of ReNew magazine (click here to view the cover) contains a controversial article, detailing how increased supply voltage can substantially increase your electricity bills. The article is now downloadable as an Adobe Acrobat file here
- Experimental proof: a table here shows exactly how much the running costs of a range of home and office appliances can be increased by a high voltage supply to your premises. Ohm's Law has not been repealed by electricity privatisation.
- Karlsson and Hill "Modelling and identification of nonlinear dynamic loads in power systems" from IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, Vol. 9, No. 1, February 1994. A zipped, user-unfriendly hypertext/faxsimile version is available here to download and view (838kB: unzip to a temporary folder and start with file "new-0.htm"). Wording in the abstract, and the discussion that followed, both seemed to caution the reader to use the information only for the purpose of "system stability analysis". But of course, the clear demonstration of the increased volume, and therefore cost, of electricity delivered at a higher voltage is of vital interest to the customer. A scientific paper should not try to restrict the uses to which the information is put.
- Electricity Week (Australia) Volume 24, No. 12 (317 kBytes Adobe Acrobat file). Two important voltage problems are extensively covered in this document: the effect of high steady state voltages on the running cost of existing appliances, and the likely increased running cost for appliances manufactured to a proposed new 230 volt standard. The synergistic effect of these changes could lead to an 18% increase in running costs, unless the regulatory authorities mandate the lowering of steady-state voltages in line with the new 230 volt appliance rating standard.
- The Australian Broadcasting Corporation web site has a science forum called "Self Serve Science" where a lively debate ran for much of 1999 on what excess voltage can do to your power bill. A table of contents (no frames) on the ABC site allows you to view a wealth of archived material on their discussion forum. In 2000, the voltage issue should have got a hearing in a Federal Court case A9 of 1999: ESAA and ACCC, but both parties to the court case remain tight-lipped about the arguments they will be running, and in fact the case has been postponed until March 2001.
- My historical voltage files dating back to December 1996 contain information which is still relevant, but the data relating to power consumption of appliances has now been superseded by more accurate and sophisticated data in the ReNew magazine article (now a downloadable Acrobat 3.0 document), and in the table of experimental results. To review the historical evolution of the voltage story, click here. Other old material presented to the ACCC is online in the June 1997 electricity issues update.)
- Feedback always welcome.
End of page....last updated Tuesday, 23rd October 2001.