Hydro Tasmania readies bushfire plan for dry summer season

Bushfire burns in grassland area with smoky skies above (hydro)
Image: Hydro Tasmania

In the wake of the Flinders Island bushfires, and looking towards a hot, dry summer, Hydro Tasmania says it is bushfire ready, with plans in place to keep staff safe and the lights on.

As Australia’s largest renewable energy generator and largest water manager, Hydro Tasmania is responsible for the operation of 54 major dams and 30 hydropower stations across the state. Many of these assets are in remote bush locations which means it’s critical to have proactive and clear emergency plans in place.

Related article: Hydro Tasmania delivers $168m profit and safety record

Hydro Tasmania executive general manager of assets and infrastructure Jesse Clark said bushfire planning and mitigation measures are a major focus for the organisation coming into summer.

“We know a challenging fire season is ahead of us, which is why we’ve completed over hundreds of hectares of hazard reduction burns, created and maintained fire trails, prioritised our vegetation maintenance and reviewed fire management plans at all of our power stations.

“We call in the experts to fight fires when they arise—what we do well is being proactive and prepared before a fire happens,” he said.

Australia’s climate influences have shifted significantly since last spring, and the arrival of El Niño is expected to bring with it reduced rainfall, more temperature extremes, and a greater risk of bushfires.

Each power station has an individual fire management plan that examines the topography and elevation of each location, to ensure Hydro Tasmania sites are adequately prepared for each bushfire season.

“These include guidelines on vegetation management, and a fire mitigation program, to protect critical infrastructure like power stations, pump stations, pipelines and pen stocks,” Clark said.

These measures are all done in consultation with a range of stakeholders, including the Tasmania Fire Service, Tasmania Parks and Wildlife, and TasNetworks, in accordance with best practice standards and legislation.

Clark said in the unlikely event a power station is forced offline due to fire, it was unlikely to have an adverse impact on Tasmania’s energy security.

Related article: Transgrid completes annual bushfire prevention program

“We’ve been preparing for El Niño for some time, and thanks to careful water management our storage levels are very healthy, providing great flexibility for our operations.

“We work very closely with TasNetworks on transmission and distribution to ensure Tasmanians have a secure, reliable, and resilient electricity system,” he said.

Previous articleSunshine Hydro wins Queensland Telstra Business Award
Next articleAusNet completes $500m REFCL bushfire mitigation program