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PAC Report Silent on Threats to Energy Security

15 Aug 2017

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Energy spokesperson

The Public Accounts Committee’s Financial Position and Performance of Government Owned Energy Entities report, tabled in the Tasmanian Parliament today, is underwhelming.  It is a missed opportunity to address the vulnerability of Tasmania's energy system, which was highlighted during the energy crisis.

The report fails to comment on, let alone make recommendations about, the largest and most serious threats to our energy security and its affordability in Tasmania.

Without a Greens’ member on the Public Accounts Committee, the report is silent about the many threats to the energy sector from a warming climate.  It fails to address the tide of technological developments, including solar generation and storage solutions that are transforming our electricity system.

By its silence, the Committee report appears to endorse increased fixed charges for network services. These charges act as a disincentive for people to invest in rooftop solar and battery storage, and forces them to leave the grid.

The report barely mentions the Liberals' GBE dividend policy, which requires 90% of net profits is paid to the government.  This policy puts unsustainable pressure on energy GBEs' maintenance programs, and forces short-term decisions that compete with a secure and renewable future.

TasNetworks continues to be the Liberals' cash cow, with its borrowings increased to $1.79 billion, despite its poles, wires and other assets only being worth $920 million.

This represents a debt-to-equity ratio of 190%. Despite the Auditor-General regarding as high amount, this serious risk was only noted in the Report.

Hidden in the PAC report are the findings of the Final Study into the Feasibility of a Second Tasmanian Interconnector. That concluded it wasn't even feasible to attempt to the work of a business case for a second interconnector, let alone invest over a billion dollars for another cable that wouldn't be operational for nearly a decade.

Where advice provided to the Committee is inconsistent with Liberal and Labor policy, the report has been silent. 

This report is not only a wasted opportunity, it is a failure by Labor and the Liberals to scrutinise our energy entities and make recommendations for security into the future.