Cross Post: Marcus – Tasmania’s Energy Scandal

Tasmania has provided yet another example of what happens when you let the lunatics run the asylum for too long. This time, it has run out of electricity to the point of needing 200 temporary diesel generators – at a start up cost of $44 million, plus operating costs of $22 million per month.

As you’ll soon see, these costs are merely the steam emanating from the hot pile of dung shoveled up in this scandal – whose key players include a greedy government owned hydroelectric operator, an inept State government and Australia’s most socialistic Prime Minister in history.

Even if you’re not Tasmanian, you should care about this: it’s your money that’s paying for it.

 

Act I: the table is set

Before nestling into dirty diesel’s comforting embrace, Tasmania prided itself on generating almost 100% of its power from ‘renewable energy’ – with over two-thirds coming from hydroelectricity.

We could stop here and just about have explained things (eggs, one basket and so forth). However, it is only on completion of the remaining four acts of this Tasmanian tragedy that we can fully appreciate the true nature of the scandal.

Act II: 2005 – Basslink commissioned as a single cable

Since 2005, there’s been a cable that runs from Tasmania to Victoria called ‘Basslink’. Its purpose was to ‘drought-proof’ Tasmania by allowing it to import and export energy to the mainland as needed.

Basslink is a single cable. If there’s a fault somewhere along the cable, the whole things falls over (no, I’m not joking).

Basslink Flows

The above table shows the energy going in and out of Tasmania via Basslink since it was built. It doesn’t take long to see that something strange was going on between 2012 and 2014 – but that’s not the whole story:

  • Until 2010-11, Tasmania was overwhelmingly a net Basslink importer.
  • During 2010-11 and 2011-12, Tasmania dramatically increased its exports to the point of equalling its imports (seemingly as if it were preparing for something big).
  • In 2012-13, Tasmania’s Basslink’s imports suddenly plummeted to 2.6% of its energy consumption (see page 130 of the link).
  • By 2013-14, Tasmania was importing practically nothing via Basslink – with a truckload of energy going the other way.

If you’re wondering what the hell was going on, you need only go back to August 2010.

Act III: 2010 – Julia Gillard and the carbon tax

In August 2010, Australia provided Julia Gillard with the means to introduce a carbon tax – which she cheerfully did. Among many other things, Gillard’s scheme made hydroelectricity artificially more price competitive in the energy market. In turn, Tasmania’s government owned hydroelectricity operator (Hydro Tasmania) became positively giddy with excitement… and greed:

Hydro-tasmania-storage-graph-2010-2016
The green area shows the the carbon tax period. The red shows the period in which Basslink has been out of service (ongoing).

As you can see, Hydro Tasmania was delighted to flick the Basslink switch and recklessly plough through more than half of its stored energy supply (i.e. stored water) during the carbon tax period:

The figures show that Tasmanian hydro generators have been selling electricity into the mainland market at unprecedented rates, drawing down storage levels dramatically since the carbon price was implemented in July 2012.

In the midst of its carbon tax induced hydro fire sale, a couple of basic principles became completely lost on Hydro Tasmania:

  • Hydroelectricity relies on a nuisance called gravity – it is only ‘renewable’ to the extent that rainfall can re-fill the power plant’s dam.
  • If you operate a hydroelectricity plant and you flog off all your stored water much faster than the rain can re-fill your dam, you’re going to have a bad time.

Incredibly, Hydro Tasmania’s involvement in this debacle did not end there.

Act IV: 2009-14 – Tamar Valley gas power station commissioned, micturated on, shut down, put up for sale… then recommissioned (*)

* (Yes, all these things really happened in under 5 years).

On being commissioned in September 2009 (as a replacement for the Bell Bay gas station), the Tamar Valley gas station provided about 10% of Tasmania’s energy. However, since then, it has been treated like a TV Guide:

  • In 2013, it was put in the hands of Hydro Tasmania (for absolutely nothing). This gave Hydro Tasmania almost complete control over the entire Tasmanian energy market.
  • On receiving the Tamar Valley station, Hydro Tasmania immediately cannibalised its book value down to zero and commenced decommissioning it in June 2014. This was despite the fact that it had been functioning for less than five years and represented a major form of energy insurance.

(Let’s keep that last date in mind – August 2015).

The decision to sell the Tamar Valley gas station’s major operating component in August 2015 was made despite the fact that:

  • Hydro Tasmania had already savaged the State’s stored hydro energy supply to less than 30% (with summer coming around the corner).

Not to worry, it’s not like the Tamar Valley gas station cost around a quarter of a billion dollars to build and was still in brand new condition or anything. Oh, wait a minute…

(*%&#).

Act V – completing the catastrophe

Following the 2013 Federal election, the carbon tax was removed. This eradicated the artificial price signal on energy and mercifully saved Hydro Tasmania from its own suicidal behaviour. To recap:

  • From 2012 to 2014, Hydro Tasmania had been a busy little bee, flogging off as much hydroelectricity as it could. It was also closing down and trying to sell the Tamar Valley gas station’s major parts. This was all done for the sole purpose of making Hydro Tasmania’s balance sheet look good – and it only came at the expense of the public interest.
  • By November 2015, Hydro Tasmania had completely dwindled its stored hydro energy to the point where Basslink was providing 40% of Tasmania’s energy needs (NB: this represents the full import capacity of Basslink). Or, put another way, about a third of Tasmania’s energy was now coming from those dirty, dirty Victorian coal power plants.

If the carbon tax hadn’t been removed, how much lower would Hydro Tasmania have allowed its stored energy to fall to before it stopped?

In any event, the damage had already been done. All that was needed now was a trigger and some fallout:

  • Unfortunately, due to Hydro Tasmania’s above decisions, Tasmania hasn’t been able to:
    • rely on its stored hydro supplies – because they are currently sitting at at less than 15% of overall capacity; or
    • its backup gas power to the extent it should – because, funnily enough, the Tamar Valley power station has a really tough time generating electricity while it’s in a mothballed state and its combined-cycle unit is up for sale.
  • By late December 2015, Tasmania decided to recommission the Tamar Valley gas plant – less than 4 months after the decision to sell its combined-cycle unit (yes, really). Not to worry, I’m sure they’ll re-decommission it as soon as possible so that Tasmanians can all feel clean again.
  • And then there’s the diesel…

When you add it all up, Tasmania is now laughably and hopelessly reliant on the dirtiest forms of fossil fuel for its survival. Insane amounts of money have been squandered.

Cue the climate change brigade

Predictably, some are blaming this disaster on human induced global warming (because of some short term dry weather).

To anyone who has properly considered this matter, it’s obvious that neither carbon dioxide nor ‘climate change’ have had anything to do with this. ‘Political buggery’ are two much more fitting words to accurately describe the cause of what happened.

For the record, Tasmania is not immune to drought and dry conditions (see 1888, 1967 and 2008 for example). The problem is that the last couple of times Tasmania had dry spells, it had cheap and reliable forms of backup power to reduce the energy stress. This time it does not.

Get out your wallet

Tasmania is not self-sufficient economically. It relies on taxpayer funds which far exceed its contribution to Australia’s GDP ($48K per capita against the national average of $66K). The latestnational GST distribution drives this point home:

In its latest decision the Commonwealth Grants Commission (which determines the breakdown of the GST) has decided that Western Australia should get just 29.99 cents in the dollar of revenue.

This is the lowest share ever by any state by a long way.

New South Wales receives 97.7 cents in the dollar and Victoria just 89.3 cents. The rest of the states all receive more than the share they would receive on a pure per-capita basis. Queensland gets $1.12, South Australia $1.36, Tasmania $1.82.

This means that, for every dollar wasted on this fiasco, non-Tasmanians have to come to the party in a big way.

When all is said and done, the cost of the 200 temporary diesel generators alone could come close to (or exceed) what it cost to build the Tamar Valley gas plant. It all depends on when Basslink can be fixed. Using the figures at the very top of this article, the diesel bill will sail over $100 million if Basslink isn’t functioning within three months – which is almost half the Tamar Valley build cost of $230 million. Just stop and think about that for a minute.

On top of this, there’ll also be the cost of building a second Basslink cable (which should have been done in the first place) and re-commissioning the Tamar Valley gas plant and then doing goodness knows what to it after that. There will also be many more consequential costs on top of this (e.g. millions on government inquiries, ‘re-structuring’ and the like).

One thing is for sure, the short term money that Hydro Tasmania made between 2012 and 2014 will be completely and utterly dwarfed by the cost of this mess.

For the final insult, go back to the top of this article, look at the feature image again and wallow in the hilarious irony. Just make sure you have your preferred sedative ready.

Originally published at The Marcus Review.

This entry was posted in Cross Post. Bookmark the permalink.

108 Responses to Cross Post: Marcus – Tasmania’s Energy Scandal

  1. Robber Baron

    The circle is almost complete.

  2. Cannibal

    Would the Premier of Tasmania please step forward and defend the actions of the CEO of Hydro Tasmania.
    I assume Hydro Tasmania reported annually to what laughingly passes for a government down there.
    Obviously nobody read the reports or asked pertinent questions for four or five years.

    Thankyou Marcus.

  3. egg_

    A classic Greco tragedy?

  4. Empire

    The inevitable result ALP/ Greens collusion at both state and federal level at the same time.

  5. Lets add a couple more tidbits to the tale.

    1) Hydro has been overclocking the cable above the design voltage to pump more power through the cable.

    2) The cable had been blowing transmission fibres for some time.

    3) For all that diesel generation, it still isn’t enough to cover the shortfall in supply if we don’t get good autumn rains.

    4) Half our internet connection died with the cable.

    5) The boat isn’t really big enough, so they can only lift so much cable, and only patch so much cable at a time. The amount they can patch is substantially smaller than the uncertainty in the fault location. They don’t actually know where the break is. A HV electrical engineer I know suggested the cable will likely be down for a year. Best case is two more months, but that requires a large dose of luck.

  6. In general, the cable (and the market access it provided) has led to a bunch of less than helpful attitudes.
    Insufficient generation capacity on the island. Chancing the arm on the subsidy.

    To be fair, the cut couldn’t of come at a worse time for them. But that’s Murphy for you.

    They need to get back to building power stations.

  7. Shelley

    Brilliant post. This is what I come to the Cat for. SA is heading in a similar direction. The other mendicant State, whose idiot government last week trumpeted some carbon neutral plan.

  8. slow&easy

    Driftforge
    The boat isn’t really big enough, so they can only lift so much cable, and only patch so much cable at a time. The amount they can patch is substantially smaller than the uncertainty in the fault location. They don’t actually know where the break is. A HV electrical engineer I know suggested the cable will likely be down for a year. Best case is two more months, but that requires a large dose of luck.

    I take your word for it but still find it incredible.
    I saw a documentary a few years ago how they laid and maintained underseas cables laid at great depth, including finding fault location, lifting of cable repair and recommission.

    How on earth can they not find and fix a cable laying in water with an average depth of 50 m?
    It’s a shallow pond compared to where other cables were laid.
    Good old Aussie know-how.
    No wonder, that for 200 years we didn’t even have a standard railway gauge, or more importantly, even to this day we can’t agree on which way the horses should run in a race?
    Unbelievable.

  9. egg_

    4) Half our internet connection died with the cable.

    As it’s said to carry a (non-Telstra) dark fibre, I can’t see why an OTDR can’t easily localise the fault.

  10. Tom

    A brilliant piece of journalism, Marcus, that further digs the grave of the MSM. It should be a national scandal and a major lesson for the country. Instead, the whole thing has been played down. I have read just one article about it (until now) in The Australian.

    In particular, the Greens-infested Hobart Mercury, which is already haemorrhaging readers because of its leftwing bias, has been missing in action with gutless coverups like this:

    Neither of these events [the dry spell and the Bassslink cable severance] are political. They would have happened whoever was in government. The solution needs to be similarly apolitical and carefully considered.

  11. egg_

    I saw a documentary a few years ago how they laid and maintained underseas cables laid at great depth, including finding fault location, lifting of cable repair and recommission.

    They’re laid in deep ocean ‘trenches’ for (anti-stretching breakage) stability and have done so for over a century globally; it’s UK firm Cable&Wireless’s bread and butter.

  12. Myrddin Seren

    Hydro Tasmania – the Board

    Chair – Grant Every-Burns

    An electrical engineer by trade and former CEO of Macgen. Would know something about keeping the lights on. Not sure how the Tassie Green earworm was inserted ?

    Non-Exec Directors

    Saul Eslake – errmmm, well there’s your first problem.

    Samantha Hogg – ex-CFO type. Would think she can run a set of numbers ?

    Samantha recently purchased a farm in Northern Tasmania where she now resides.

    Ear worm inserted.

    Stan Kalinko

    Mr Kalinko has practised law for more than 30 years, specialising in corporate and commercial law, including initial public offerings (IPOs), takeovers, and mergers and acquisitions

    Lawyer who specialises in slice-and-dice. Keeping the lights on, not so much. Can see how selling off a gas plant would excite him.

    Tessa Jakszewicz

    Ms Jakszewicz is CEO of Landcare Australia Limited, an organisation which promotes the care of our national environment by community groups. Prior to this she was Deputy CEO at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre

    Came to Hydro with her ear worms already inserted. Presumably thinks Earth Hour should be 24/7/365. Great choice for a power generator.

    Stephen Davy – CEO

    Mr Davy has a First Class Honours Degree in Physics.

    Who hoo – presumably knows that you need rain to fall down and then more gravity to pull the accumulated water through your turbines if you want to generate hydro power ?

    Prior to his arrival at Hydro Tasmania, Mr Davy managed contract trading at Eraring Energy in New South Wales.

    Previously Mr Davy worked in the banking industry, trading and marketing currency and derivative products

    Well – I think you can guess who’s brilliant idea it was to pump up the bonus by running down the reserves of H2O ! In some respects, this is the Dick Smith slice-and-dice all over again.

    This is a classic failure of governance and misalignment of the interests of the board with those of the shareholders – that is, the people of Tasmania and THEIR idiotic representative, the Tasmanian government.

    A lot of them seem to be members of the Institute of Company Directors. They should be handing this story to the AICD as a case study in failed governance as they throw in their resignations.

  13. egg_

    Wiki:
    On 21 December 2015 it was announced the Basslink was disconnected due to a faulty interconnector approximately 100 kilometres off the Tasmanian coast, Basslink originally announced the cable would be repaired and returned to service by 19 March 2016, however they have since advised the date will not be met and as of 22 February 2016 there is no set time for completion of the task.

    Due to the loss making situation of the link, and general prognosis, the demise of the company and the link have been speculated upon.

  14. Stackja

    And the ALP stopped the Franklin Dam, for ‘Green’ votes.

  15. Habib

    Of course any government worth its weight would seek to recover the cost of this fiasco from those responsible, and raise charges of malfeasance, which has clearly occured. Of course they wont. Politicians in this sad morass are never held to account for their cretinous decisions; if they were, we may have fewer imbeciles running for office. No other past-time gets so many free passes.

  16. Peter S

    I have been following this unfolding crisis for some time. Interestingly it has received little coverage on the mainland.

    Thanks for the summary.

  17. Empire

    http://www.hydro.com.au/system/files/documents/150252-Hydro-AR-web-final.pdf

    Check out p94 Exec Rem. These goons were paid STI bonuses for their genius in FY15. Their remit is to sell power into the national grid, but conditionally on profits being sustainable.

    As a non-consenting financial supporter of Tasmania, I expect those bonuses to be paid back.

  18. herodotus

    Yeah, but let’s give Labor another turn at the Federal level. Shorten will make that carbon scheme work better this time. Like socialism as a whole, it just needs to be done properly.

  19. old bloke

    Jay Weatherill must be pleased. Tasmania will now overtake “carbon neutral” South Australia for the most expensive electricity in Australia record.

  20. MiltonG

    Let’s not forget that Basslink did much more than allow Hydro to profit from carbon-free exports.

    It also allowed the Victorian market price, which included the carbon tax, to push up the Tasmanian electricity ‘market price’. Thus all Tasmanian consumers paid a hidden carbon price for their hydro electricity – a much larger windfall for Hydro and the State Government, than the profit from exports to Victoria.

    If only Basslink had failed in 2012, Tasmania should have got cheaper electricity.

  21. Stackja

    Peter S – MSM don’t like telling tales about socialist failures.

  22. GregJ

    The boat isn’t really big enough, so they can only lift so much cable, and only patch so much cable at a time. The amount they can patch is substantially smaller than the uncertainty in the fault location. They don’t actually know where the break is. A HV electrical engineer I know suggested the cable will likely be down for a year. Best case is two more months, but that requires a large dose of luck.

    Again and again and again, Tasmanians seem to vote in the Tofu-Eaters and Tea-Baggers, but they refuse to accept any responsibility for their actions. These people have brought this on themselves. The only sensible thing to do is to cut the sinking boat adrift from the mother ship. Maybe then they might come to their senses. Until then .. let them drift off to the Antarctic.

  23. a happy little debunker

    This disaster was visited upon Tasmania primarily due to the Labor/Green carbon tax and a corrupt state Labor/Green accord, commissioned on the lies that preceded a tie between Labor and Liberal state parties in March 2010.

    The blame for this lies at the feet of federal senator Nick McKim, Lara Giddings and David Bartlett.

    They strangled Tasmania to within an inch of it’s existence, and laid landmines to ensure our recovery would be painful.

  24. H B Bear

    Australia’s first failed State exists mainly for its comedy value.

    All those Commonwealth transfers to keep the show going should really come out of the Australia Council arts budget.

  25. Chris

    South Australia might be next. Winding down Leigh Creek coalfield, Port Augusta power station and Dry Creek power station, and relying on a single transmission line from Victoria. We rely on solar and wind. But don’t worry we are developing a thermal power station at Broken Hill and wave generator for the South East! Oh, wait up, the thermal has failed and the wave generator sank.

  26. H B Bear

    Mainland Tasmania is its off Broadway equivalent.

  27. Stackja

    Unless Sinc tells us who the post authors are, we should respect their anonymity.

  28. old bloke

    Chris, why is the Port Augusta power station closing? Has the station passed its use-by date, or have they run out of coal at Leigh Creek?

  29. Myrddin Seren

    old bloke

    Chris, why is the Port Augusta power station closing? Has the station passed its use-by date, or have they run out of coal at Leigh Creek?

    Technically, neither. There is so much wind energy being generated in to the SA grid, which gets priority and subsidies, the coal-fired power stations cannot compete. Enjoy your wind mills SA !

  30. How on earth can they not find and fix a cable laying in water with an average depth of 50 m?

    Firstly, its still in 50m of water.

    Second, the damage may not even be evident on the exterior of the cable; even if it is, the most likely physical evidence is a hole about the size a pin would make.

    Third, they use impulse reflection to measure how far down the cable the break is. What that doesn’t tell them is where that break point is on the sea floor. Cable doesn’t lay straight.

    So they take a stab at it, and pull the cable up. Given they are unlikely to be able to detect the damage externally, they then cut the cable.

    They can then replace a section of the cable with the one section of cable they have room for on the boat, join it at both ends, and see if things work.

    That process takes ~ two months.

    Re questions about the cable and comparing it to deep sea comms cables: this isn’t a comms cable. It’s apparently in the region of 50kg/m, 4-5 inches in diameter, with multiple layers of sheathing of different materials.

    The boat that is doing the work is a refitted comms boat which happened to be floating around in NZ at the time.

  31. Peewhit

    old bloke, from another oldy, I have been told by a reliable source that Leigh Creek coal is now down to half the thermal values it started with. I also sort of understand that Alinta don’t like feeding the boilers coal while the windmills are selling power to the grid. Something about costs with no return on standby.

  32. SA has 90+ year old coal plants. There’s a good reason they are looking into nuclear power in that state.

  33. John Michelmore

    Driftforge, It has already been decided to shut the coal fired plants at Port Augusta, the mine is already closed! There is no way we will get nuclear power, nobody had the balls, so we will import what we might need after all the manufacturing closes, from the east? Yep I’m going to be living in a rust belt State in the dark most of the time! it’s going to be like having permanent Earth Hour, whoopdido!

  34. Fred Lenin

    The members of the Tasmanian Shire Council.like the shires of SA and NT and the Canberra Town Council only exist through the generosity of the Taxpayers of the real states you know the ones that pay all tge Taxes to keep them . If every career poitician emigrated to North Korea tomorrow ,they would ot be missed ,never in history have so few incompetent wankers did so much damage to so many people n such a short time ! ( PS . Apologies to the Little Fat Dictator you deserve them mate !)

  35. A universal law: the anti-midas touch:

    Everything gold socialists touch, turns to shit

  36. Pete of Perth

    John, at least you’ll see the magnificent starry sky without all the light pollution.

  37. John Michelmore

    Get Hawk back to undo the Franklin issue, start building more hydro dams and two more cables to Australia from that Island so they can pay for their existence and maybe I can respectfully ask for some of that 15c/kWh hydropower pricing for heating the residents of Hobart get! I say respectfully because I live in SA and we are headed for worse than Tasmania and there is nothing I can do about it.

  38. GregJ

    Get Hawk back to undo the Franklin issue, start building more hydro dams and two more cables to Australia from that Island so they can pay for their existence and maybe I can respectfully ask for some of that 15c/kWh hydropower pricing for heating the residents of Hobart get! I say respectfully because I live in SA and we are headed for worse than Tasmania and there is nothing I can do about it.

    No. No more Manna from Heaven. It is time for the Tasmanian people to be cut off from the mainland. Enough is enough. They will either survive or not. Who cares. But in the meantime the rest of us don’t have to support their idiotic choices.

    I say down with Tasmania!

  39. Chris

    The coal power is winding down because the idiots in charge think that we can thrive on wind and solar without needing backup power capability. I think it will be funny if this winter is very cold, cloudy and low wind due to a weak solar cycle 24 and the end of El Niño. It helps me stay amused as I am stocking up my firewood as we e-speak.

  40. Angus Black

    With all due respect, I need to point out to the Tasmania-haters that, in 1982, that “great” Western Australian, Bob Hawke, in one act of bastardry (and at the apparent behest of the population of Australia – this was a key federal election issue):
    (i) sealed Tasmania’s fate by caving in to the nascent greens and anti-Gordon-below-Franklin activists (led by that great NSWelshman, Bob Brown) ensuring that the dam was never built and that Tasmania would be unable to compete with the Big Island for the forseeable – while, at the same time,
    (ii) established the Green Party under the aforesaid Saint Bob as a destructive force in Tasmanian, Australian and, you could probably argue, western hemisphere countries generally.

    The North Island has compounded this problem ever since by exiling their troublemakers down here where, surprise, surprise, they have whittled away at what little was left.

    And don’t get me started on the evils of the lily-livered chardonnay-swilling pinkos that have licked the backsides of the MUA over cabotage – thus ensuring that any Tasmanian who “has a go” has to pay through thet nose to export his product and/or purchase his imports – it is cheaper to ship Spain–>Melbourne than it is to ship Hobart–>Melbourne. In what parallel universe does that seem to you like a good idea?

    So guys, you stuffed it and you can damned well keep paying the rent til you either fix the problems or, at the very least, allow us to untie our hands and fix it for you.

    Feel marginally better now 🙂

  41. old bloke

    Technically, neither. There is so much wind energy being generated in to the SA grid, which gets priority and subsidies, the coal-fired power stations cannot compete. Enjoy your wind mills SA !

    I find it odd that a Labor government would put hundreds of unionists (power station employees and miners) out of work just to further their own green credentials, there must be other reasons. What are the long term implications, how many others will lose their jobs at Whyalla and Port Pirie?

  42. jupes

    Brilliant post Marcus.

    Thank you.

  43. Jim Rose

    Fascinating. Thanks for linking to it.

  44. Talleyrand

    If only there was a major coal or gas field on/adjacent the Tasmanian landmass that could fuel a 24hr a day fossil fuel power plant; one with a new clean high-efficiency low emssion design.

    Who knows when something like that will be invented …

  45. Bob in Castlemaine

    A great article Marcus, nailed it chapter and verse.
    There should be a couple of lessons in this sad tale for those who would learn?
    1. The rest of the country shouldn’t be too quick with the cheque book when it comes to rescuing mendicant states such as Tasmania and South Australia from the consequences of their self inflicted crazy Green energy management policies.
    2. Governments shouldn’t meddle/distort markets particularly the energy market, they invariably get it wrong with disastrous results e.g. no mandated renewable energy taxes/targets and no emissions trading or carbon dioxide taxes.

  46. Talleyrand

    Angus Black – Hawke was 30+ years ago, and Tasmania has had that much time to elect a competent government who would ensure fossil fuel power supply.
    Instead they elected Labor Greens government repeatedly. Pleae note Bob Hwake did not establish the Greens party in Tasmania, your assumedly fellow Tasmanians did and elected them

    Here is a deal – Tasmanis can just secede from the Commonwealth and join New Zealand.
    Then stop fucking mewling like a colicky baby.

  47. Tapdog

    Back in the real world Angus Black, it seems there still isn’t enough grey matter in all of Tasmania for you shivering sods to pull the pin on the clowns who sealed your fate.

    Electorally speaking you still have the option of giving the idiots early retirement. Paid for by the North Island of course.

  48. Great post thanks – talk about a Bonfire of the Vanities – I have charts online showing daily Tas generation from 1 Nov 15 to 10 Mar – and also 5 minute generation 15 to 21 Dec 2015 – See the rapid oscillations of Imports and Exports – see that exports were often at a higher rate than imports. Given the dam levels on 15 Dec and the fact summer was only 2 weeks old – can anybody offer an explanation for resuming exports?
    Tasmanian electricity crisis explained day by day
    http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=4353

  49. egg_

    Firstly, its still in 50m of water.

    Second, the damage may not even be evident on the exterior of the cable; even if it is, the most likely physical evidence is a hole about the size a pin would make.

    Third, they use impulse reflection to measure how far down the cable the break is. What that doesn’t tell them is where that break point is on the sea floor. Cable doesn’t lay straight.

    The technology’s been around for a over century (in km’s deep water) – sounds like an economic solution, per the wiki link.

  50. John Michelmore

    Really it’s quite laughable to have to use the most expensive method for power generation to get the out of the shit, ie diesel generators. They could have had the cheapest and zero greenhouse gas emissions from an extra dam or two, but no the greenies knew best, but ddn’t account for greed!

  51. egg_

    It’s apparently in the region of 50kg/m, 4-5 inches in diameter, with multiple layers of sheathing of different materials.

    In 50m water – try the mass of km’s deep grappled comms cable, with currents, etc.

  52. Empire

    I find it odd that a Labor government would put hundreds of unionists (power station employees and miners) out of work just to further their own green credentials, there must be other reasons. What are the long term implications, how many others will lose their jobs at Whyalla and Port Pirie?

    Trade union membership has been on the slide for 30 years. The ALP primary vote at the 2014 SA election was 35.8%. Old Labor can no longer deliver power to the party. That is why we are now seeing ALP policy drift from traditional industrial rent seeking to populist “progressive” pandering.

    Even in Victoria, which still has a strong industrial base, the progressives are slowly cannibalising the party. Shorten’s loony 50% RET was a direct result of the progressives mounting a well organised surprise attack at the national conference.

    The ALP used to pretend they gave a shit about workers and job security. They can no longer afford to propogate the lie if they want to get their mitts on a treasury.

    Conservatives bemoan Textor’s “you don’t matter” assertion. It’s no different for Wayne from Whyalla and the wukkas party.

  53. slow&easy

    Driftforge

    Firstly, its still in 50m of water.

    Sorry mate, you should watch that doco I was referring to.
    Comparing to what they did in 1000m + depth 50 meters is like looking at a piece of wire in a bathtub.
    And if there is a break in the communication part of the cable, it should make it even easier to find the fault.

    Reading your post about a refitted NZ boat, looks to me like they are using the Frank Spencer method of fixing things. ( you know, he only had a hammer and a screwdriver in his toolbox)

  54. Linden

    yes it is, but will heads roll over it, I don’t think so, never ever does these days unless it is harmless poor sucker way down the power grid ladder. Also reminds me, what about all those Momentum Energy adds they were running, false advertising?

  55. RealWorld

    Well said Angus Black
    I’m a Tasmanian and would love to be free of the Green/ Labour shackles, and be self sufficient – until then you idiot lefty’s can keep paying!

  56. Old bloke no one answered you about coal in SA. There is sufficient coal at Leigh Creek for about 20 years but there are huge deposits elsewhere. Lake Phillipson is a very large deposits with billions of tonnes reserve. It could be operated by open cut and I believe the quality is similar to Leigh Creek (sub-bituminous).
    It would make sense to build a power station near the deposit and supply power to places like Roxby Downs other large mineral deposits in the area and Whyalla. I think it is not far from existing rail so could supply the Power Station at Port Augusta when Leigh Creek runs out.

  57. slow&easy

    Driftforge
    Third, they use impulse reflection to measure how far down the cable the break is. What that doesn’t tell them is where that break point is on the sea floor. Cable doesn’t lay straight.

    I apologise for harping on and being boring about it but, this “Cable doesn’t lay straight” makes no sense to me. The ship has a steering wheel I take it even a NZ one should, using a cable sensor and GPS, following along the cable and knowing the position of fault in the cable it shouldn’t be too hard to find.

    I have the distinct feeling that there is more to this matter than meets the eye. They are up to something!

  58. Michael of Oberon

    So, has anyone been sacked for this yet? If not, why not? Shouldn’t the Board and the CEO just tender their resignations now?

  59. old bloke

    Thanks Cement & others. A coal mining operation at Lake Phillipson would be good. As you say, it’s pretty close to the Ghan railway line so existing infrastructure could be put to good use for minimal outlay. I think the top end of Spencers Gulf would be a good place for the ALA to campaign, their energy policy is to end all green scheme subsidies and provide power through the most stable and least expensive means possible. There would be a lot of disaffected Labor voters in that area who have been sacrificed to the great green god who may become less rusted-on..

  60. old bloke

    Regarding the fibre comms cable which was also broken, was that inside our outside the sheath covering the power cable? If it was external to the power cable then it should be pretty easy to find where the breakage is. Does anyone know about the loss of power, was it a slow degradation or catastrophic and compete instantaneously? It will be interesting to find the cause.

  61. old bloke

    Tasmania had operational collieries in the past, I don’t know if they are still feasible. The government there should give the greenies a choice, either dam the Franklin for more hydro, or build a coal fired power station. Either way, most voters there would realise that they are dependant on external power sources and that situation can’t be allowed to continue.

  62. Gab

    Taswegians should build more wind and solar farms and not rely on any coal- or hydro-powered electricity farms. *snicker*

  63. geoffff

    Sell Tasmania to the Israelis.

    You know it makes sense.

  64. RealWorld

    Yes old bloke that is exactly what should happen. But in the greens parallel universe in which we now live the best we can hope for is another cable to Victoria’s brown coal – and the Tas Nimbys can continue their delusion

  65. old bloke

    Taswegians should build more wind and solar farms and not rely on any coal- or hydro-powered electricity farms. *snicker*

    Good idea Gab. I’d also suggest cabling a set of large hamster wheels and putting the Tasmanian Devils into them and they can generate some “devil power”.

  66. Motelier

    I have great delight baiting the “renewable” supporters.

    This episode in Tasmaniac is just what happens when you try to go off grid in your family home except it is on a larger scale.

    I heartily recommend and support that all renewable supporters plan to go off grid. There are heaps of models out there I tell them. Put more solar panels up, stick a wind generator on the roof of your McMansion, purchase lots of batteries and an inverter I tell them. But no internal combustion engines I tell them. If you want to generate electricity us a generator connected to a pedal crank. Then you can be fitter, not bored and generate electricity. And you can be holier than GOD when I turn on the lights and sit down to a nice refreshing cold beer

  67. Robbo

    The motto of Tasmania should be “Where Two Heads Are Better Than One”. The pity of it is that neither of the two heads has a working brain cell because they don’t have to think. they just have to sit on their collective arses with their hands held out. Bloody disgraceful.

  68. john of dandenong

    Have it on good authority that the Aurukun settlement ‘burns $180,000/$200k per month on diesel electricity generation. So much for all this ‘green’ BS.

  69. Rabz

    Why hasn’t anyone been gaoled as a result of this inexcusable scandal?

    Unfriggingbelievable.

  70. john of dandenong

    O/T – google Aurukun. For how much longer can the Oz taxpayer maintain the staggering cost of a totally non-productive community in their choice of living, whether it be Aurukun, Tassie, SA or anywhere, especially where those communities elect anti-productive nitwits as their respresentatives?

  71. MsDolittle

    Gawd, Doc just made me watch The Boys of St Vincent’s. Not enough tissues.

  72. Old Bloke Tasmania still has an operating coal mine at Fingal. It is owned and operated by Cement Australia to supply the works at Railton. I think it also supplies the Newsprint works at Boyer.
    Many years ago I went down into the mine and saw a complete fossilised (carbonised) tree. You can find fossilised wood in low rank coals such as the Latrobe Valley and Anglesea brown coal and even at Leigh Creek SA but it is rare to see it in higher rank black coal.

  73. Julian

    It must be fun spending other people’s money.

  74. Splatacrobat

    Great post Marcus. This should be taught in ever environmental studies course as a lesson in Green fuckwittery.
    You only pass the subject if you can calculate the cost to mainland taxpayers for Tasmania’s misfeasance.

  75. Talleyrand;
    We should just sell Tasmania to the Israelis. EOS.

  76. classical_hero

    I hope that we can get South Australia to b cut off from the grid, so they can bask in their 100% renweable energy.

  77. Old Bloke;

    I think the top end of Spencers Gulf would be a good place for the ALA to campaign, their energy policy is to end all green scheme subsidies and provide power through the most stable and least expensive means possible. There would be a lot of disaffected Labor voters in that area who have been sacrificed to the great green god who may become less rusted-on..

    Good advice Oldie, I’ll pass it on.
    Are there any ALA members here?

  78. If these idiots were running the operation purely to maximise their bonuses, then there is a good case for a fraud charge, from the way I see it.
    Dot? Can you comment please?

  79. .

    Winston Smith
    #1981228, posted on March 20, 2016 at 11:53 am
    If these idiots were running the operation purely to maximise their bonuses, then there is a good case for a fraud charge, from the way I see it.

    No, because they must have intent to defraud (fault element) under s 253 A [fraud] of the Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas).

    Maximising their bonuses would be consistent with the intention of their employment contract and so s 252 A (1) [dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage] does not apply per s 252 (2).

    s 253 [fraud in respect of work] does not apply because it is impossible to assert they have “no right of claim“.

    This is why contract design is important. However, the whole thing is a commercial and engineering joke.

  80. David

    The ship has a steering wheel I take it even a NZ one should, using a cable sensor and GPS, following along the cable and knowing the position of fault in the cable it shouldn’t be too hard to find.

    Not as easy as it might sound. Even with a highly effective linked GPS – steering system a vessel does not track exactly on the pre-determined course. Tidal flow in the Strait is at approximate right angles to a course from Tassy to Vic [with variations across the Strait] and wave set is not regular; i.e. it is largely wind dependent. I’ve skippered vessels across the Strait including those with GPS/steering interaction. Don’t know anything about finding cable faults though.

    Sell Tasmania to the Israelis.

    What have you got against the Israelis geoffff? 🙂

    My forebears settled in Taswegia in the 1830’s. I guess if we had lived up to the financial wizardry often attributed to my mob [in my case incorrectly I might add] Taswegia would now be owned by Jews – just not Israeli ones. 🙂

  81. David

    Are there any ALA members here?

    Not a member [yet] but intend to vote for them if they run for the Senate here in Victoriastan. I don’t think there is much chance of a Lower House candidate here in Goldstein.

  82. JimD

    Is it true that same mob owns Malaysia airlines and Basslink? Given the fuck ups that is not unbelievable.
    TasGov ought consider buy it back and tell ém to fuck off ços they breached maintenance etc etc, buy borrowing 10b international at 1% fixed for 20 years, declare MUA and CFMEU terrorist organizations, lay parallel cable and complete the Franklin Hydro Scheme. Problem solved. No?

  83. JimD

    David @ 1.19
    ‘My forebears settled in Taswegia in the 1830?s’
    Probably from England and then moved to the mainland in the 1840’s. No?

  84. David

    Probably from England and then moved to the mainland in the 1840?s

    For one side of the family yes but not until 1907 Jim when Grandfather on other side of the family was posted to Melbourne.

  85. In general: Yes, they bloody well ought to have secured (or be in the process of securing) a bigger ship more suited to the task.

    I think this is one of those problems people where have tried to cover up just how serious it is, and how quickly it can be dealt with.

    It is time for the Tasmanian people to be cut off from the mainland.

    Fully agreed. Then we can get on with doing all the things that we need to do that the FedGov won’t allow.

    Also, it would have the bonus effect of causing a migration of all the lefties and the parasites to the mainland.

    It’d take five to ten years, but the place would really start growing properly then.

    As it is, we will probably have to suffer the wrong end of the sovereignty for subsidy bargain for sometime yet.

  86. slow&easy

    David
    there are ships today that stay pu on the very spot they want to be on and only a very heavy storm will prevent the operation.

    But if we want to be technical about it it doesn’t even have to be the larger repair ship to do the tracking. Any suitable smaller vessel will do and these days you can map and annotate your route with GPS positions.
    Tracking a cable itself is no biggy, when I was working in iron ore processing we designed detectors that could pick out a small bolt under a bed of highly magnetic iron ore.

  87. John

    Wow!! Just plain wow, the shear incompetence of the Labor/Green policies are plain to see.

    Tassie is such a beautiful place with so much potential, sad to see it self destruct like this.

  88. slow&easy

    Driftforge
    It is time for the Tasmanian people to be cut off from the mainland.

    Fully agreed. Then we can get on with doing all the things that we need to do that the FedGov won’t allow.

    Also, it would have the bonus effect of causing a migration of all the lefties and the parasites to the mainland.

    It’d take five to ten years, but the place would really start growing properly then.

    As it is, we will probably have to suffer the wrong end of the sovereignty for subsidy bargain for sometime yet.

    I agree with you there but do you really think it’s the federal involvement only that’s holding you back?
    After all it all had to start at home, the fact that Hawke butted in with the Franklin dam was only a cynical opportunistic-political response to what was already happening on the ground.
    In short I think you have to blame the home grown agitators and their followers for your woes.
    And those followers were not a minority either!
    If I got wrong I stand corrected after a suitable explain!

  89. slow&easy

    PS, Wasn’t there a paper mill battle that was lost? Seems that employment is a low priority in Tassie.

  90. David

    there are ships today that stay put on the very spot they want to be on and only a very heavy storm will prevent the operation.

    Thanks s&e. Been 10 years since I took a smallish vessel across the ditch. It had GPS/steering linked. Our problem was Force8 from the west and our path on the plotter looked like the track of a drunken sailor. Not a trip I’d care to repeat.

    Still it put us into Burnie spot on the eastern end of the breakwater. Not bad for 175nm [in a straight line]

  91. Angus Black

    Slowandeasy, Hawke stopped the Tasmanian Government fron building the Gordon below Franklin dam to curry support from green-leaning mainland voters who were “outraged” at election time.

    Bob Brown was the leader of the Green activists in Tasmania who were demonstrating & trying to stop the dam being built.

    Both Hawke and Brown were mainlanders playing to a mainland media audience. Tasmannians knew what they wanted – the dam and the ceap electricity which would flow from it.

    So Hawke kicked Tasmanians in the goolies in order to win the federal election. In so doing, he helped build and validate the media profile on which Bob Brown built the Greens party which was the model for Green parties across the world.

    The mainland has been picking up some of the bill for this idiocy ever since – but so have Tasmanians who, basically, are hamstrung by the Feds.

  92. slow&easy

    David
    Those ships have driving screws front and back and on both sides, they are designed for such operations as we were discussing. Plus oil rig placements etc. anything that requires high precision and heavy lifting.

  93. Mark from Melbourne

    Are there any ALA members here?

    Yes.

  94. David

    s&e about 18 months ago a friend let me have a play with a small [30m l.o.a] vessel with a Kort system on it that was here in Melbournistan for a few days.

    Un-bloody-believable what you could do with it.

    Almost made me wish I had kept my “ticket” current.

  95. slow&easy

    David
    I had a few trips on ships, official duty, until the brass recognised that what I kept telling them was true.
    I’m absolutely useless and dysfunctional the first couple of days on any vessel unless on mirror smooth seas, and if it’s rough I mean 1m swell forget it.
    The transferred me to the air force, have no probs. flying

  96. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    I’m absolutely useless and dysfunctional the first couple of days on any vessel unless on mirror smooth seas, and if it’s rough I mean 1m swell forget it.

    One time brother in law, 28 years Royal Australian Navy, and got seasick every time he went to sea.

  97. slow&easy

    Zulu Kilo Two Alpha
    Depends what your job is I suppose, if you have to be on your toes from go to whoa, there is a problem.
    Love fishing and go out on PP bay near Edithvale as often as I can and I feel I can stand it a bit better as I get older but still avoid the rough. I suppose others would laugh at what I call ‘rough’.
    Funnily the advice is to avoid alcohol, I find the opposite.

  98. Andrew

    Jim, Temasek is Singapore – Khazanah is Malaysia.

  99. Con

    Driftforge how confident is your HV engineer mate. The dates have moved several times already, but that is a big difference. Is he saying a year as they don’t won’t be able to identify the fault, or physically fix it ?

  100. Con

    Chris i heard Leigh Creek was shutting but Dry Creek is news, where did you hear that?

  101. Bill

    One aspects of this criticism is a bit unfair. Specifically, Tasmania has plenty of power without Tamar gasplant if Basslink is working. The growing number of windfarms, which are relatively new, supply a significant portion. With Basslink able to supply up to 40% since 2005, it was sensible to mothball Tamar, or keep it only as peaking power reserve.

    Tamar is high cost, especially when you add in the gas haulage tarrifs. They weren’t to know that Basslink would break, and that a drought would coincide.

  102. IA

    @Egg and Driftforge
    The OTDR and TDR methods only work with certainty in the case of a clean break or a dead short. In the case of an insulation failure, the impulse signal may be attenuated in such a way as that no pulse is ever returned. The information coming out of BPL is scant, but it seems like this may be the source of the problem as they cut the cable some 89km offshore, and then tested back to the island, finding no fault, then tested the northern 200km, identifying that it was there.

    If the fault is an insulation failure, then it may be over 10’s or more kilometers, and I understand that the boat in question can only carry 5km at a time.

  103. Myrddin Seren

    They weren’t to know that Basslink would break, and that a drought would coincide.

    Two words – ‘risk management’

    Board of directors.

    Q: What is is main source of input for electricity generation ?
    A: Rain

    Q: What happens if, as our Green friends here on the board assert will happen per Prof Flannery, it doesn’t rain ?
    A: A thin cable to Victorian brown coal power

    Q: What if the cable goes down ?
    A: Durka, durka, durka

    This should be a case study on failed governance and risk management.

    As everyone will be covering their arses frantically, I doubt we will see any real dirt UNLESS ‘somehow’ inconvenient documents get leaked to the opposition in the lead up to the next Tasmanian state election.

  104. Myrddin:

    This should be a case study on failed governance and risk management.

    No, this should be a case study in ?corporate fraud. The management apparently used their position to influence electrical production to their personal benefit via production bonuses, to the detriment of the owners – the people.
    Or not… can anyone show me how the law works on this one?

  105. IA

    @Winston
    The operation of the Hydro GBE is directed by the energy minister as defined by the ministerial charter. It is well known that the Labor/Green power sharing government were desperately trying to prop up the budget (via GBE dividends) with non-parity power exports over Basslink, and directed hydro to that end.

    Senator McKim (then leader of the greens and education minister in that government) now claims that it was “Not a whole of government decision”, but it’s pretty clear that The Greens opted for political expediency.

  106. .

    No, this should be a case study in ?corporate fraud. The management apparently used their position to influence electrical production to their personal benefit via production bonuses, to the detriment of the owners – the people.

    I’ve shown you why it isn’t criminal, you should on the other hand consider tort or breach of contract.

  107. Fair enough dot. I didn’t see your reply. Normally I scroll up to where I left off before but must have failed to do so. Which explains why I have to read like mad just to stay up to date on the Freds.

  108. Peter Davies

    Tasmania should have a thriving bio-economy, instead this has been locked down and out by ideological pressures with the results you are seeing now, with wild fires destroying 1000yr old forests and diesel generators being brought in, 200MWe worth chewing through +6 million litres a week in fossil derived diesel fuel. This is not the fail of a handful of managers, but rather a huge cultural one that has been allowed to develop over time. Well the results of this social experiment are in.

    Now to some salvage with an eye on rebuilding the local economy into a genuinely sustainable and environmentally sensitive model.

    Australian developed technology exists to cleanly convert biomass into fuel gases or for other more advanced products whilst also producing a high grade charcoal coal product for improving agriculture, forestry and industry. Just on the official figures on wood waste in Tasmania a distributed power generation system can be developed with short lead times to generate 350MWe base load nearly twice the “emergency diesel” procurement. The big advantage being it can use these gensets! If so it replaces 80-85% of the diesel fuel needed. But don’t expect the government to act, they know about it but it doesn’t fit the agenda of never producing power from wood. They would seem to rather get the perverse outcomes currently in train. Like all good change it will need to be enacted through grass roots.

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