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Basslink could unplug cable, warns Bryan Green

by October 19, 2016 General

Tasmania’s undersea power cable could be turned off if Basslink’s finances do not improve, Opposition Leader Bryan Green says.

In a report to the Singapore stock exchange, Basslink, the operators of the only power cable between Tasmania and Victoria, revealed it was in talks with banks to access insurance funds to meet operating costs.

The company’s current plight is a hangover to the cable’s six-month outage earlier this year, an event that threw Basslink into a serious financial and legal dispute with its sole customer Hydro Tasmania.

Hydro Tasmania has not been paying Basslink fees to use the cable since September.

Mr Green, a former energy minister, said if the problems were not resolved Basslink could turn the cable off.

“I think most Tasmanians, like me, understand that if you don’t pay your power bill — in other words the facility fee — well then eventually the power gets cut off,” he said.

Energy Minister Matthew Groom dismissed the concerns.

“It’s in everyone’s best interests for the cable to continue to operate and I think it is important that we don’t engage in speculation,” he said.

Greens spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff called for more information about what would happen if Basslink could not stabilise its finances.

“We need to know what the Minister’s contingency plan is,” she said.

“Hydro has had months and months and months, and I am absolutely positive they have modelled this scenario.”

No risk to the state’s energy security: Hydro

Hydro Tasmania said the matters had no bearing on the state’s energy security or Hydro’s day-to-day operations.

“We regularly undertake modelling for coping with Basslink outages, since Basslink started,” a spokesman said.

“With storages currently above 40 per cent, Tasmania is very well placed to manage the extremely unlikely event of another prolonged Basslink cable repair coinciding with very low inflows.”

The broken cable broke and record low hydro dam levels plunged Tasmania into an unprecedented energy crisis.

Hydro has rejected Basslink’s claim that the cable’s failure was a “force majeure” event and has not been paying its fee to use the cable since September.