A green light for the proposed Marinus Link, a second power cable to tie Tasmania with the big island, is good news.
Tasmania has been punching above its weight in terms of reliable green, renewable power, with its blueprint for hydropower a roadmap other states can follow towards renewable electricity. The business case for the Marinus Link has found the project could be shovel-ready by 2023 but some legislative and framework changes need to occur before then to ensure the project can take its next step. Project Marinus is a $3.5 million project and would result in hundreds of jobs in the North and North-West, in both construction and ongoing. It would potentially add $5.7 billion to the Tasmanian economy through subsequent renewable energy development. With several key renewable energy projects on the horizon, Tasmania is fast becoming a popular destination for energy companies to invest and Project Marinus would only add to this potential. While all of this sounds positive, it's important to note the Project Marinus business case states that Australia's energy pricing framework would need to change to ensure Tasmanian energy users do not end up paying higher prices to benefit mainland customers. The ball is in the court of the federal government, if they are committed to the project, to ensure this doesn't happen.
However, the state does have its part to play in that scenario also. A key election commitment made by the Hodgman Government was to put downward pressure on power prices. In a recent government business enterprise hearing, it was revealed that there was an increase in the number of people in Tasmania who were put on payment plans by Aurora Energy. Energy Minister Guy Barnett said about 90,000 Tasmanians received concessions on their power bills, worth about $45 million. While Project Marinus will add another feather to the state's economic cap, it's important that Tasmanians are not forgotten in the process. Renewable energy is the way of the future and while Tasmania is well placed, any project proposed should benefit the whole state and not rob Peter to pay Paul, at the expense of Tasmanians.