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Second Basslink a COAG Distraction

5 Oct 2016

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Energy spokesperson

The Minister for Energy, Matthew Groom will be begging for funding for a second Bass Strait power interconnector at the COAG Energy Committee this week, with complete disregard for the advice of industry experts, scientists and economists.

Ray Mostogl of Bell Bay Aluminium, a major employer in the state, called the Liberal’s fascination with a second cable a “concerning distraction”.   Minister Groom's focus is his sullied reputation, not the views of major industrials and renewable energy groups, or the outcome of two Energy Taskforces that he has established.

The Hodgman Government’s case for a second cable is based on the argument we need it for energy security, and be able to expand on-island renewable generation.  But a second cable will take ten years to build, and do nothing to insure us against another energy crisis in that time.

The original Basslink case was argued on similar grounds.  Instead of government stimulating investment in new renewables, the interconnector made us complacent and over-reliant on imported coal power from Victoria.

A second Basslink interconnector will cost at least $1 billion, money that we should be funnelling into renewable energy that can make Tasmania self-sufficient.

The preliminary feasibility report by leading national economist Warwick Smith found it wouldn’t be a solution to Tasmania’s energy challenges in the short term.  The State needs to diversify with more renewable energy development so that a second cable and its costs can be justified in the long term when the island's energy needs are provided for, and secure.

The Greens hope the government's Climate Change Action Plan, which has been delayed, will set renewable energy targets for Tasmania.

There are multiple renewable wind energy projects waiting a decision from Minister Groom, including Granville Harbour Windfarm.  Instead of rushing for a cripplingly-expensive future lifeline, he should look to the next five years and put some real insurance in place.

 It’s possible for Tasmania to become at least 100% self-sufficient in renewable power by 2022, regardless of rainfall.  All it would take is a future-thinking government.