There is something of a shock about the past of a man dedicated to conserving electricity.
Jon Dee travels the world – including Port Pirie – lecturing on energy-saving and has written a guide on the subject for the state government.
But, without the slightest trace of embarrassment, he admits he has no tertiary qualifications to support his campaigning.
He grew up in England, left high school and began a career which led him to mix with highly-qualified academics and researchers. Mr Dee now has his own weekly television show called Smart Money on Sky News.
With Australian tennis legend Pat Cash, he formed conservation group Planet Ark.
His words come tumbling out including praise for Port Pirie Regional Council’s innovative campaign to set up $19-a-week solar-power schemes for residents.
“This is the most exciting plan I have seen anywhere in Australia. It is a stroke of genius,” he said.
Mr Dee, who lives at Katoomba, New South Wales, offered energy-saving tips to residents at the Port Football and Community Sporting Club last Wednesday.
He is expected to return later this year at the invitation of council’s corporate and community director James Holyman.
Mr Dee said he had been in California where he met the energy commissioner and “all she wanted to to was talk about South Australia”. The US state already had two batteries similar to the “world’s biggest” being built at Jamestown.
“South Australia was first with can-deposit legislation and outlawing plastic bags. Everyone copies it. It is unique in Australia to try things out first and now Port Pirie is doing the same with the solar-power scheme,” he said.
“Billions of dollars of private sector money has gone into renewables in the past year. There is massive growth in wind and solar power generation.”
As an author, he has created a 10-step guide to energy-saving.
“I assume that everyone knows nothing. I am interested in saving money with electricity bills,” he said.
A passionate believer in renewable energy, he says coal-fired generators will become a thing of the past.
“I am not interested in the ‘coal is dirty” argument. All the coal plants are coming to the end of their life,” he said.
Mr Dee has lectured around the world and moderated conferences in London and Germany.
“We are at a major tipping point,” he said of the world’s energy resources.