Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Valley sites fast-tracked for emergency power

DIESEL-FUELLED generators will be installed at two hydro power stations in the Derwent Valley as Hydro Tasmania implements its "energy supply plan" in response to record low rainfall levels and the breakdown in the Basslink cable.

Energy Minister Matthew Groom today visited the Catagunya Power Station near Wayatinah in the Derwent highlands where temporary diesel generators are being connected to the state' power grid. Further diesel generators will be installed at Meadowbank Power Station near Hamilton.

Catagunya, Meadowbank and the George Town substation in northern Tasmania are described as Hydro Tasmania's priority sites for diesel generation. A number of other sites are being investigated in the north and south of the state at Hydro Tasmania power stations, TasNetworks substations and industrial sites.

"Our Energy Supply Plan ... sets out the measures we are taking to ensure the state’s energy needs are met and outlines the contingencies we have in place to deal with the risks we are facing," Mr Groom said. "Yesterday, the Executive Council approved an extension of regulation seven of the Electricity Supply Industry Regulations 2008 to fast-track development necessary to install temporary generation required under the Energy Supply Plan," he said.

"Regulation seven contains exemptions from the requirement to obtain development approval for work associated with both powerlines and substations," Mr Groom said. "The extension will allow the temporary installation of diesel generators at several locations across the state without planning development approval, as the statutory time periods required for consideration of such an application would not allow Hydro Tasmania to install the diesel generators in the necessary timeframe. The exemption is approved on the basis that the generators are to be operated on a temporary basis."

Mr Groom said diesel-powered generation was just one of the contingencies put in place to secure the state’s energy needs and its use will be dependent on other factors such as when Basslink is restored and how much rainfall is received. Electricity is also being generated at the gas-fired power station at Bell Bay.

"While the costs associated with installing the diesel generators are significant, they are a prudent response to a very difficult situation, and it is because of our strong budget management that we have the means to respond to the unexpected such as this. Hydro and the Government will provide regular updates on the ESP as the situation evolves over coming weeks and months. Tasmanians can be assured we will do everything necessary to maintain energy security," Mr Groom said.

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