TASMANIA’S low energy storage levels leaves Hydro Tasmania with serious questions to answer, according to an energy insider.
Requesting anonymity, the insider, who worked at Hydro for more than 10 years, has described the company’s decision-making as incompetent and irresponsible and said it had left Tasmania ‘‘in a very precarious position’’.
‘‘In effect and apparently without much regard for Tasmania’s future energy security, Hydro Tasmania made hay while the sun shone, converting water in its dams and lakes into cash,’’ the insider said.
A Hydro Tasmania spokeswoman said the company deliberately built up its storages in the lead-up to the fixed price carbon period as it knew it would receive a higher price for its energy.
‘‘This was a very public strategy. As a business, we are charged with acting commercially and continued to do so in this period with the considerable benefits returning to Tasmania while managing the hydro storages in a careful and prudent manner,’’ the spokeswoman said.
The Hydro spokeswoman defended the company’s handling of the combined-cycle unit and its staff.
‘‘Our modelling showed that even with very low inflows and a 60-day outage, we had sufficient water in storage to manage energy security.
‘‘The extremely low inflows we have experienced over recent months were less than half of the lowest recorded in the last 30 years,’’ the spokeswoman said.
‘‘Hydro Tasmania has always operated the CCGT [combined-cycle gas turbine] optimally within our portfolio, and restarting it in early 2016 made good commercial sense, given the low inflows to our storages in the last few months.’’
Energy Minister Matthew Groom said record low rainfall and the first substantive Basslink outage were just two of the reasons the state was faced with its current energy concerns.
‘‘What’s important now is managing this situation, ensuring energy security and looking to the future,’’ he said.
‘‘The government is doing everything necessary to ensure energy security for Tasmania.’’