Energy supply plan: operational update

21 February 2016

Hydro Tasmania and the State Government have a plan to manage energy supply and that plan is being implemented.  We are now planning to be able to meet all Tasmanian energy demand without Basslink in operation

A range of actions are being initiated as required, in response to the unprecedented situation of record low rainfall and the Basslink outage.

“The record low rainfall over recent months and the fault in the Basslink interconnector are both very rare events, the combination of which has not previously been experienced in Tasmania,” said Steve Davy, Hydro Tasmania Chief Executive Officer.

“We plan by taking into account all known information and credible events. This planning took into account the possibility of the lowest recorded inflows and a two-month Basslink outage.

“The record dry in Spring 2015 saw inflows of about half the previously recorded worst result for that period in the past 30 years. And despite the link’s owners initially predicting a 60-day outage of Basslink, that is clearly not the case.”

Given continued uncertainty about the return to service date of Basslink, Hydro Tasmania has adjusted its risk management approach.

“We are now planning to be able to meet all Tasmanian energy demand without Basslink in operation, even in the event of a cool, dry May, and with allowance for an additional adverse event that would have an impact on energy generation, such as loss of a major power station,” Mr Davy said.

“While planning for three low probability events to occur simultaneously may be considered very conservative, Hydro Tasmania considers this approach to be prudent while uncertainty over future inflows and on the timing of a repair of Basslink remains high.” 

As part of that response, Hydro Tasmania, TasNetworks and others across government are delivering a plan that will have up to 100 megawatts of temporary diesel generation available for operation by the end of March. This involves ongoing and rapid investigations to identify and prepare proposed sites, including the management of technical, logistical and regulatory issues.

Some key sites are being prioritised for site works and installation, and a number of additional sites are being investigated in parallel. Sites are chosen for the ability to connect additional generation to the grid, ability to supply diesel to the generators and to minimise impact on nearby residents. These include sites in the north and south of the state at Hydro
Tasmania power stations, TasNetworks substations and industrial sites.

Prioritised sites are Catagunya Power Station, Meadowbank Power Station, and several potential sites within the Bell Bay industrial precinct including the George Town Substation and the Bell Bay Power Station.

Work is also progressing on a number of options to enable a further 100MW of temporary diesel generation to be available from the end of April.

Generation from gas and temporary diesel, along with voluntary load reductions by large consumers, will be well in excess of the import capacity of Basslink. This will ensure Tasmanian demand can be met, even with a prolonged Basslink outage.

“There is no question that managing the current challenge comes at a cost. In particular diesel generation is expensive. Actual cost will depend on how much of the diesel generation is operated, and for how long,” Mr Davy said.

“We will run the diesel generation if we receive low inflows into our storages or Basslink has not returned to service.

“The overall financial impact on Hydro Tasmania is still to be quantified as it will be influenced by factors including winter rains and the duration of the Basslink outage. We are likely to record an operating loss this financial year. This final impact will be communicated in our annual report as part of our broader financial reporting.”

The storage position at 22 February 2016 is 16.8 per cent.

Storages dropped by 0.6 per cent over the past week*, compared to 0.9 per cent the week before, reflecting useful inflows into the west / southwest catchments.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecasts medium-high (60-70 per cent) chance of moderate rainfalls in the southwest and Central Highlands on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

A full update on Hydro Tasmania’s Energy Supply Plan is appended to this media release.

Ends.

Released by Samantha Meyer (03) 6230 5746.

*Last week (Monday 15/02/2016) was reported as TEIS 17.3%. This has been revised as it was based on an estimate at Lake Gordon due to the lake level reading instrument being unavailable. A new instrument was installed on Tuesday 16/02/2016 and the data corrected resulting in a slightly higher figure than estimated.

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