SINCE 2007, household electricity prices in Australia have risen by more than 40 per cent and by next year are projected to rise by around about 30 per cent. Federal MP Alby Schultz says this is the "biggest government sponsored fraud in the history of our country".
Schultz was speaking to parliament about Big Wind, an industry so rife with "intimidation, manipulation, lies and cover-up" he believes there's enough evidence "to justify a royal commission". So how come, you may be wondering, so many of us have been kept in the dark for so long?
Writing for The Australian, journalist James Delingpole: The short answer seems to be that money buys both silence and public ignorance. For just one large-scale wind turbine, a developer can make nearly $500,000 in taxpayer subsidies called Renewable Energy Certificates. Under current government carbon emissions reduction plans, some $50 billion of these RECs are to be issued, every cent of them funnelled out of your pocket and into the (often offshore) bank account of your friendly neighbourhood Big Wind outfit. Meanwhile your energy bills (part of which, by government mandate, must come from "renewables") skyrocket.
With all this free loot, Big Wind has more than enough money to hide its secrets. It does so in three main ways: first by hiring silver-tongued lobbyists; second with lavish propaganda campaigns ranging from brainwashing programs at schools to misleading claims on their websites about all the wonderful benefits wind farms supposedly bring; third by being able to afford the world's most expensive lawyers.
I got a taste of what I saw as this legal bullying the last time I wrote about wind farms in The Australian. A stiff, threatening letter swiftly came winging its way from a high end Sydney law firm, followed by a complaint to the Press Council. This complaint was upheld, even though my facts were correct and the supposedly "offensive" phrase came not from me but from a sheep farmer understandably incensed that his little patch of NSW paradise was about to become a Golgotha of bat-chomping, bird-slicing eco crucifixes.
But I got off quite lightly. Around the world, anyone who dares to take on Big Wind may endure a campaign of smears and character assassination. It's bad enough in Australia - just ask Sarah Laurie - but even worse in Canada, where a young environmentalist called Esther Wrightman is being sued by a $32bn wind developer called Next Era energy. Why? For creating a website in which she protested against the ugly, noisy 120m-high turbines Next Era planned to erect in her part of Ontario.
At this point some of you may be thinking: "Oh come on. There's got to be another side to this." And I would concede that on the surface the case for wind looks quite compelling: it's "free"; it's carbon-neutral; it's eco-friendly; it boosts the economy.
Except when you examine the details you realise that none of these claims stands up.
Being intermittent, unreliable, unpredictable and enormously expensive wind is a very poor substitute for the cheap fossil fuel in which Australia abounds. It doesn't create real jobs just heavily subsidised Potemkin jobs. (In Britain every wind industry job costs the taxpayer pound stg. 100,000 a year in subsidies.) And that's before you get on to the terrible health problems that can be caused by the low-frequency noise of those giant whupping blades; and the devastation they cause wildlife, especially bats and birds of prey. Tony Abbott's business adviser Maurice Newman calls wind farms "an obscene wealth transfer from poor to rich" and a "crime against the people" and wants the renewables target scrapped. He's dead right, but if anyone has the guts to do it they're going to face a lot of entrenched resistance from the pollies and big business alike.
The ALP, as I've written here before, is heavily involved, not least because of the vast sums of industry super-fund money that have been pumped into it. And if you think Big Wind's crony capitalists are going to give up without a fight, you clearly don't know the kind of people you'll be dealing with.
James Delingpole is the author of Killing the Earth to Save It.