One for the road

Written By: - Date published: 1:49 pm, March 22nd, 2010 - 12 comments
Categories: energy, Media - Tags:

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.

12 comments on “One for the road”

  1. IrishBill 1

    Remember when he asked whether we had a head-start on election date, I called him a dick and he got all uppity in the comments section?

    Ah those were the days.

    I’ll miss his blog though. He’s always been willing to front and he’s never taken himself too seriously and it’s been interesting watching how his political outlook has shifted as he’s interacted with the broader critical community that is the blogosphere.

    I certainly wish him well too.

    I also hope that his replacement is as good humoured and open to a good argument as he has been.

  2. BLiP 2

    While its a shame to see the MSM gutting its overage of the parliamentary process, we can see in this news The Peter Principle in effect. Good luck to the remaining scribblers in Christchurch.

  3. rainman 3

    I always suspected the MSM journos were not the smartest bulbs in the chandelier, but this level of ignorance is mildly terrifying.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    I imagine he wont be replaced at all, The Press being part of the Fairfax group who have other Wellington based journos.
    perhaps the sinking lid has affected the Press gallery once again-

    • IrishBill 4.1

      You may be correct. That would put a lot of pressure on Watkins however and I don’t think she’s up to it. And there’s no way Vernon would ever engage in the new media in the way Colin has.

  5. Rex Widerstrom 5

    I could be wrong, but I think Espiner is referring to Copeland’s support for Meridian’s “Project Aqua” – something the last Labour government canned.

    I mean the alternative is that Copeland:
    a) Understood something as relatively complex as pumped storage hydroelectricity and
    b) supported it.

    …and how likely, based on past performance, is that?

    If I’m right (and I stand to be corrected), I’m afraid you may be guilty of the offence with which you’ve charged Colin.

  6. logie97 6

    Oh, I think he had Copeland generally summed up. From memory Copeland was one of the few inside the house who debated long and hard against the repeal of section 52, but was outside the house posturing and missed the actual vote, and had to seek leave of the house to register his opposition later.

  7. Jum 7

    I liked it when he ate his hat.

  8. kirbya 8

    Anyone know the reason why that blog entry is no longer on stuff and, despite his claim that it’d be his last, there’s a new one about mining in its place?

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