The future of Hydro Tasmania’s wind farming subsidiary Roaring 40s is in doubt after suggestions it is about to cease operations.
Hydro Tasmania yesterday refused to discuss details of negotiations between Roaring 40s and its 50 per cent joint venture partner, publicly listed Chinese energy company China Light and Power.
However, Hydro chief executive Roy Adair confirmed that after six years “changing circumstances” were affecting the joint venture.
The speculated end of the Roaring 40s venture throws into confusion the imminent construction of the $450 million Musselroe wind farm in North-East Tasmania. The future of the 40 employees at Roaring 40s is also under a cloud.
Roaring 40s joint venture partner Hong Kong-based China Light and Power recently bought the NSW assets of large coal-fired Australian power company Tru Energy.
Hydro Tasmania has also been involved in recent negotiations with two other Chinese energy companies, China Datang Renewable Power and Tianwei Baobian Electric Company, to jointly develop renewable opportunities in Australia.
Mr Adair confirmed yesterday the Roaring 40s joint venture arrangements had begun to dissipate last September.
Both parent companies of the Roaring 40s joint venture which owns two wind farms in South Australia and the Woolnorth wind farm in North-West Tasmania can now pursue independent wind farming opportunities.
“Both CLP and Hydro Tasmania [now] have the flexibility to develop wind projects outside of the joint venture,” Mr Adair said.
“We therefore are able to confirm that Hydro Tasmania remains committed to wind development in Tasmania and remains confident that construction of Musselroe will begin later this year.”
The uncertain status of the Roaring 40s company, which is half-owned by Tasmanian taxpayers, was raised in Parliament by Liberal energy spokesman Matthew Groom.
Mr Groom said Hydro Tasmania appeared poised to enter into a new agreement to develop wind and solar energy resources in Tasmania with Datang, as recently announced to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in December.
Mr Groom asked Energy Minister Bryan Green if this meant the Government had already sold its remaining half share in Roaring 40s to CLP, or was about to split the assets to end the partnership.
Mr Green said he would leave it to Hydro Tasmania to make any announcements about Roaring 40s’ future.
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