Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Emperor Has No Clothes

Burn baby burn

Under the headline, "Ferry company slows down for the environment" we see that Fullers have announced that they could "potentially" save save $250,000 on energy AND help save the planet by reducing carbon emissions.

Sounds great!

Fullers describe themselves as a "leading ferry operator in Auckland for over 20 years and offers a range of ferry trips, tours and charters around Auckland Harbour and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf". So, we assume that Fullers know a little bit about running a leisure and commuter ferry business...or do they?

Fullers enlisted the assistance of the Tourism Energy Efficiency Programme (TEEP), a venture run by the Tourism Industry Association (TIA) and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) that assists transport and accommodation tourism businesses reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

So what radical energy saving recommendations did TEEP come up with after auditing the Fullers operation?

Well, TEEP has come up with an apparent little known theory that the slower an engine is revved, the less fuel it burns! So after much contemplation TEEP came up with their main energy saving recommendation that the Fullers ferrys should simply go slower in order to reap the rewards of fuel savings. Brilliant!

The TIA are merely cheerleaders, so who who are the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA) that is driving this programme?

The EECA  is a Crown entity with a role to nanny and cajole "encourage, promote, and support energy efficiency, energy conservation, and the use of renewable sources of energy."

The EECA is best known for forcing appliance retailers to display those colorful energy rating labels and vehicle dealers to display those insidious fuel economy labels. 

So, how much does this all cost me?

EECA was is governed by a board of eight responsible for 100-odd staff and redistribution of approximately $54 million of taxpayer's money.

So what have we all learnt from this?

Businesses that specialise in offering transport services clearly don't know what they are doing and need to enlist a government sponsored authority to point out obvious and practical business practices.

What are the benefits?

A business that enlists a tax payer subsidised energy audit is then given license to grandstand their good corporate citizenship and environmental concerns.

The TIA and EECA can then chime in with self-qualifying press releases.

The projected savings look very impressive, however we believe Fullers already knew what the simplistic ideas an audit would reveal. To give them credit, we don't think Fullers are that stupid!

We wonder what the hapless ferry passengers might think about their service being reduced to a crawl? What is the benefit for them? Are their ticket prices going to be reduced? Not likely, as Fullers will now be carrying out a social service and saving the planet with all the supposed fuel savings.

At the risk of being cynical, we see this as another example of wasting taxpayers money to elevate a company's environmental and social credentials that will be used as a marketing and cost cutting ploy. 

We thought briefly about getting one of these energy audits done ourselves, however we think we'd rather have ours delivered to us as a tax cut ...

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