Sydney gets down to detail as city prepares to cut grid

Jones: pin-stripes and enthusiasm not quite enough
The tendering process in the job of taking Sydney, Australia off-grid has become mired in technical detail. Its a bit of a setback for Australia’s most ambitious power project ever. Allan Jones, Sydney’s renewable boss, has had to ask his boss, Lord Mayor Clover Moore, to suspend the tendering process while he engages in some additional negotiations.

The City seemed all set to give the contract to energy giant Origin which had readied an announcement it was about to take Sydney off the grid.

Origin are the only bidder for the project to design, install and run green power plants in basements across the city to generate electricity and recycled water.

Switching off from coal would shield city businesses and residents from soaring energy prices, network charges and any tarriffs on carbon.

Australia’s largest energy retailer Origin Energy, was the only tender for the project, via its subsidiary, Cogent Pty Ltd. and the deal had been stitched up over the past months.

However, Sydney City Council was asked to reject Cogent’s offer — at least while Jones’ staff figured out details. The tender was so complicated and tender laws are so rigid, that the only way to alter the terms of the wrongly- framed tender document was to prevent the contract going ahead.

Councillors will be delegate authority to staff to negotiate with “suitably qualified organisations” including Cogent Energy.

“The tender was a good one, but because the project is so big and complex, we need to go beyond that,” the spokesman said.

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