The Tasmanian Government has been told it needs to pray for wind of “biblical proportions” to return Hydro Tasmania’s wind-farm business to profitability.
A parliamentary committee scrutinising the operations of Hydro Tasmania was told yesterday that Hydro’s wind-farm business, Roaring 40s, had run at a loss for the past five years because there had not been enough wind.
Hydro Tasmania’s new chief executive Roy Adair said he hoped the wind-farm subsidiary would break even this year.
But he conceded one of the major problems had been that winds at its major wind farm at Woolnorth, on Tasmania’s far northwest tip been “down against expectations”.
Mr Adair said early evaluation of the Woolnorth wind-farm site in 2000 had predicted wind speeds, and therefore power production, would be 8 to 14 per cent higher than had been recorded.
He said with “more realistic estimates of generation productivity”, profits could now be achieved.
Liberal energy spokesman Peter Gutwein said it was not good enough that Roaring 40s had never returned a profit for its owners, the Tasmanian public, and lost nearly $13 million last financial year.
Mr Gutwein said Hydro and the Government have some serious questions to answer after revelations more wind-power generation had been forecast than had resulted, costing Tasmanian taxpayers millions of dollars.
“We had to ask for rain of biblical proportions last year [to top up Hydro Tasmania’s hydroelectricity storages], do we now need wind of biblical proportions to save Roaring 40s?” he said.
Greens energy spokesman Kim Booth agreed that it looked like Hydro Tasmania had “got its modelling wrong” on Woolnorth.
He asked if the Government could be confident about its predictions and business case for building the $400 million wind farm at Musselroe in Tasmania’s North-East.
Energy Minister Bryan Green said the State Government was confident wind farms had a big future in Tasmania, with the state’s “world-class wind resource”.
“Musselroe is a really good prospect for us and it is still a very strong business case,” he said.
“The modelling there has shown it is absolutely prudent for us to be thinking about a wind farm at Musselroe.”
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