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Wild Cattle Hill wind farm ‘strengthens’ case for second Basslink

The second day of budget estimates yielded a big reveal from Energy Minister Matthew Groom, as a $300 million renewable energy project in the Central Highlands was announced.

After the Minister had finished sparring with Labor and the Greens in his morning estimates hearing, he detailed the sprawling plan to develop a wind farm at Wild Cattle Hill.

The announcement comes a month after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull outlined his vision for Tasmania to become the renewable energy “battery of the nation”.

The Wild Cattle Hill development is being undertaken by Goldwind, a Chinese wind power company.

Having reached an in-principle agreement with government-owned electricity retailer Aurora Tasmania, Goldwind will oversee the construction of a 49 turbine wind farm facility.

Mr Groom said the construction of the farm would create 150 jobs, and, moreover, 10 ongoing jobs when construction concludes in 2020.

The Wild Cattle Hill facility will generate 144 megawatts, which is said to be enough to power 60,000 Tasmanian households.

Aurora Energy chief executive Rebecca Kardos said the development was a “significant project” for the state.

Mr Groom said the announcement “strengthened” the case for a second interconnector, which would link the Tasmanian energy market to the mainland in the same way the original Basslink cable does.

“I think any further substantial reneweable development in Tasmania strengthens the case for a second interconnector,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the halls of Parliament, the Minister parried offensives from Opposition energy spokesman Scott Bacon and Greens leader Cassy O’Connor, as the 2017-18 state budget was scrutinised.

Mr Bacon pressed the Minister on the government’s response to former Australian Market Energy Commission chairman John Tamblyn’s feasibility study into a potential second Basslink cable.

Dr Tamblyn’s findings stopped short of endorsing another interconnector.

“Why the silence in terms of when the report was released?” Mr Bacon said.

Mr Groom said he “reject[ed] the proposition”.

“I think the work that was done by Dr Tamblyn was very important,” he said.

“[B]ut there are lots of important pieces of work.”