21 January, 2010

Daylight Saving? Yawn

Don’t like missing out on Daylight Saving?  Disappointed WA voted for the 4th time “No”?  Then referendums are obviously not the way to go. May I suggest you go to New South Wales or Victoria or Tasmania or — the eternal purgatory – South Australia.

You see, I don’t really care if Perth has DLS or not; and let’s face it Perth/Mandurah/Bunbury is the socio-political critical mass of Western Australia.  Does DLS cause more car accidents?  Probably not.  Do more people sun themselves at the beach after getting home from a stressful day at the office with DLS?  I doubt it, except for the above average wage earners in the beach-side suburbs.  Do kids not sleep properly at night because the sun sets later?  Maybe not.

Whatever arguments that are put up, there are counter arguments.
But I’ll let you into a secret.  I voted no.  And I’ll tell you why.

If you’ve ever lived in the North of the state (and I don’t mean the suburbs of Joondalup and Wanneroo) then you’ll know you get roughly 12 hours of sunlight each day all year round.  It doesn’t vary as much as does in Tasmania.  Or even the Southern Coastal towns like, for example, Hopetoun.

I chose Hopetoun for a particular reason.  Hopetoun is less than 10km East of the 120°E Easting, which is where WA officially measures its time zone.  And Hopetoun is roughly on the same Northing as Sydney.  So if anywhere would need that extra bit of daylight at the end of the day it would be Hopetoun.  After all, with sunrise as early as 5am, they could do with the extra light at the end of the day rather than the beginning.

Well, it’s not that simple.  During the height of summer, the sun rises and sets in the ocean.  But in winter, is rises and sets over land.  In Hopetoun’s case having a bloody big hill the size of a mountain to the West reduces winter daylight by as much as an hour.
What’s this go to do with Perth?  We don’t have any mountains.  The sun always sets in the Indian Ocean for shore dwellers.  Being 5° West of the 120°E mark means Perth has less morning and more afternoon all year round.  A kind of built in DSL.  5° may not sound very much, but it means Perth can get over 20 minutes of DLS.  Plus not having the sun set over mountains, unlike Sydney, means more twilight.

But that’s not the real reason for voting no.  The Office of Energy did an audit of power consumption during the 3 year Day Light Savings Trial, and was supposed to release the data to the public before the last referendum.  I guess the idea being that because we were all at the beach being sand-blasted by the Fremantle Doctor, we weren’t using our electricity guzzling reverse cycle air-conditioners.  And so, the theory goes, we weren’t burning as much gas and coal in our power stations.

How could we be so naïve!  The Independent Market Regulator washed its hands of the issue, and no documents have been allowed under the Freedom of Information Act (WA) to say whether more or less power was consumed.  However, since the former Carpenter government thought it necessary to re-commission a coal fired power-plant, one becomes suspicious.

Yes, we know that Apache’s Varanus Island gas plant exploded, but Apache are still fighting NOPSA in the courts over the inspection, and anyway, even when the Carpenter government enacted a reserve of 25% of all gas produced to be for WA domestic and industrial use, no plans have been made to decommission the re-commissioned power station.  Even with the current Barnett government, even with more gas available and a plan to keep storing energy so that we urbanites won’t have to go without power again.
Conclusion: they are hiding something from us, and it isn’t the Office of Energy’s good news.

Yes, we may dream that we’ll go down to the beach after work.  With the kids.  Get some sunlight — but not too much because we don’t want any more skin cancers than we already have — and all the fun stuff that the warmer weather brings.  But let’s not kid ourselves.  At most we’ll only spend more time down at the pub or at a mate’s barbie.  Or as earlier this week proved, 3 consecutive days over 41.1°C (106°F) and 5 consecutive days over 37.8°C (100°F), it was no surprise as the grid again failed.  We had been warned about this before, and we are being warned it will happen in the future.

No matter if you prefer DLS, don’t grumble to me about how awful it is doing business with those over east.  Let’s face it, it’s awful doing business anyway and the money comes into this state from those in our timezone, eg Beijing, not outside it (Sydney, Melbourne).

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