The Standard’s authors have had what can only be described as a love-hate relationship with Colin Espiner over the years. On the one hand, his blog showed he had the courage to put his thoughts out their unpolished and honest to an extent no other mainstream journalist has yet matched.
On the other hand, he endlessly gets basic things wrong leading to erroneous conclusions. The most famous being when he dismissed John Key’s “we would love to see wages drop” quote by writing that the PM can’t affect wages. Apart from making me wonder why the same thinking didn’t apply when Key was promising to close the wage gap, that made me ask if Colin had heard of the minimum wage or knew 250,000 Kiwis are employed by the State.
Now, Colin is hanging up his umm, journalist tools?, and leaving the press gallery to be an assistant editor for The Press down in Christchurch. His last piece looks at the major political players during the eight years of his weekly column.
I wish him the best of luck of course, and leave him with one more correction of a basic mistake for the road. From today’s column:
The silliest [MP] of the lot, for my money, was the independent MP Gordon Copeland, of UnitedFuture. He once argued in favour of a form of what could only be described as perpetual motion by suggesting surplus water from hydro power stations be pumped uphill again to make additional electricity.
No arguments that Copeland was a dork but It doesn’t sound like he was proposing perpetual energy, Colin. It sounds like ‘pumped-storage hydroelectricity‘. It’s used at several places around the world to store generation capacity when its not needed for when it is. It has been seriously proposed in New Zealand as an alternative to wasting water by spilling it when the hydrolakes are full.
It works like this: when the spot price is low (like when the hydrolakes are full) rather than generate less electricity the power company uses power to pump water up into reservoirs (the suggestion in NZ is they would be carved inside mountains). When the price of electricity is higher (like when lake levels are low) the company releases the stored water and generates power off it.
Effectively, it’s a giant battery system for the electricity grid that is up to 85% efficient and means we don’t go wasting our hydro water in the good times only to run out later.
You have to wonder how many other good ideas are shot down because the journos simply misunderstand them.
Nonetheless, Colin has done us all a service by offering an unguarded look into the thinking of a senior press gallery journo. I hope his replacement follows in that tradition (and bothers to check before mocking ideas they don’t understand). And best of luck to Colin in Christchurch.