EnergySafe Magazine Summer 2018/19, issue 52 - Page 9

esv.vic.gov.au The Block By Jonathan Granger, Head of Communications and Marketing The decisions taken in Victoria 25 years ago to introduce competitive wholesale and retail markets linked by regulated integrated distributor-retailers was a satisfactory basis to initiate reform, but it was never assumed that this industry structure would or should remain unchanged. Instead it was assumed that, with appropriate competition oversight and incentive regulation, product and captial markets would motivate firms to focus on dynamic efficiency and meeting changing consumer preferences. Today that includes the perspectives of the disinterested, the disadvantaged and those who prefer renewables. As we contemplate the respective roles to be played by competition, regulation and markets for the next 100 years of electricity supply, it is worth reflecting on three things. First, the laws of physics never yield to the laws of humans. Second, in the long term, better outcomes are achieved, not by writing more rules or mandating objectives but by facilitating their attainment. As Nobel Laureate Douglas North observed, it is through the institutional settings, such as the form of regulation adopted, that incentives are created. Appropriate incentives, in turn, drive firms to employ their technical and entrepreneurial talent towards creating consumer value rather than higher costs. Third, electricity markets are unlike most other markets. Some level of engineering coordination, planning and control is still required. Nine’s reality television show, The Block, came under ESV scrutiny after an episode broadcast in September showed what appeared to be a contestant installing electrical cables. During the episode, contestant Carla led to believe she could do her own electrical work, even to the point of creating her own do-it-yourself videos on YouTube. The segment later showed Carla receiving a call from ESV indicating that it was likely all the electrical work would have to be pulled out, as she was not a licensed electrician. However, it all turned out to be a prank – the call from ESV was from someone on set pretending to be from ESV. Regrettably, the whole incident occurred under the eye of a licensed electrical contractor. The show implied that it was acceptable for non-licensed DIYers to do their own electrical work, which is both unsafe and illegal. Following the broadcast, ESV met with the producers of the show who apologised for the incident, and conceded that the prank didn’t come across as intended. ESV made it clear that their actions were unacceptable, and that the segment had contradicted our long term safety campaigns. The show’s producers accepted this, and have offered ESV the opportunity to carry out inspections during the 2019 season of the show. Where and how this is optimally carried out is one of many questions facing policy makers today. The licensed electrician spoke to ESV and claimed it was his understanding that the segment would never be broadcast. While The Block would argue that they did tell their audience that electrical work must always be carried out by a qualified electrician, the fact that they broadcast the segment to hundreds of thousands of viewers trivialises what is an incredibly dangerous task. Too many times ESV has been called to incidents that have resulted in fatalities from unlicensed people doing their own electrical work. Only recently a man was killed attempting to install a power point when he inadvertently touched a live electrical cable. All electricians have to be vigilant about this – never knowingly allow people to do unlicensed DIY. If you hear about it happening, remind these people that that sort of work is not only illegal, it is also extremely dangerous. It is not only suburban DIY work either. The warning against DIY electrical work is also important for farmers and farm workers, particularly after a number of fatalities in recent years. The Block’s apology is on ESV’s Facebook. 09