CLEAN ENERGY FORUMS
A number of our shire residents have attended three functions in recent weeks related to learning about issues concerning our shire's biggest ever proposed development, the Flyers Creek wind farm.
Two of these events were titled "Clean Energy Forums" and were held in Bathurst and Orange.
Both were sponsored by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and supported by the federal government.
A long line-up of speakers was paraded representing such funded groups as the Central West Renewable Energy Sustainability Programs Division, the Flannery Centre, and the Local Community Climate Action Network.
I won't run through them all, you get the idea.
It seemed at least four of every five speakers drew from the public purse and promised nirvana if only we would support more wind towers, solar schemes and the like.
Some of these things may be very good, I am sure we all agree.
It was hard though not to come away with the impression that little of what was proposed would be achieved without government regulation, guidance and subsidies.
SOLAR THERMAL POWER
Probably the most engaging speaker at these forums was a gentleman from Beyond Zero Emissions.
He spoke enthusiastically about Australia becoming a zero emitter by 2020.
Not down by five per cent, as the government is proposing, but by 100 per cent. A big call.
Apparently all the government has to do to achieve this is to facilitate building 12 huge concentrated solar thermal complexes across Australia.
Each of the 12 sites would occupy 230 square kilometres, according to the model on display, and consist of vast arrays of reflective discs shining the sun's rays onto a central tower which collects the heat.
This heat is then transferred into a large tank of salt, which melts at 600 degrees Celsius.
The melted salt both stores the heat and drives a generator creating electricity for a grateful population.
As the heat can be stored overnight or on cloudy days when the sun is not shining, we therefore have base load renewable energy.
This is the Holy Grail of the renewable energy industry.
Such plants have already been set up in Spain. A smaller version is planned in Australia shortly.
There are just a couple of small matters which may impede the construction of these large plants here though, and both relate to cost - something that Spain ignored.
Firstly, the expense of electricity produced from such a set-up would reportedly be up to 18 times more than that produced by a gas-fired power plant.
Also the costs to the government to construct the 12 complexes would amount to $370 billion.
The prospects of getting the government to fund such a project are much more complicated than "just a matter of will" as the speaker claimed.
At the moment the government can't find even one per cent of that figure to fund a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
To expect it to suddenly find $370 billion to fund some grand renewable scheme is something we are not going to see this side of the next Transit of Venus.
Farmers have been alarmed in recent months by the tactics of Coles to win a greater market share by screwing food prices down.
Competitors like Woolworths and Aldi have been forced to follow suit.
While this is no doubt good news for consumers in the short term, it has sent alarm bells ringing on our farms.
The most publicised incident is that of fresh milk which is now retailed at $1 a litre.
Despite rising costs our dairy farmers are being paid significantly less today than they were receiving a few years ago.
Now there is talk of forcing meat prices down, which will be a cause for concern amongst the many producers in our area.
Not content with this, Coles has just announced it intends to intensify the scrutiny of farmers to ensure any carbon tax costs that farmers are burdened with are not easily passed on to Coles.
While there is nothing wrong with proper competition and driving a hard bargain, there are many who feel this situation has gone well beyond what most of us would regard as fair.
My contribution may well be a futile one, but I refuse to set foot inside a Coles supermarket these days.
CANOLA OIL GAIN
It was pleasing to learn that Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) intends to cease frying their food in palm oil and instead switch to the much healthier Aussie grown canola oil.
Palm oil is a dreadful product, being loaded with saturated fats which clog your arteries.
The scramble to increase the production of palm oil has also resulted in hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforest being levelled.
Having had an opportunity to see kilometre after kilometre of palm oil plantations through what once was magnificent forested areas of Malaysia, Indonesia and even in New Guinea, I believe this move by KFC is well overdue.
To cook their chicken pieces may cost a few cents more per meal, but the product will taste better and be less greasy.
The Heart Foundation has also welcomed the move.