Tasmania: More industrial production, less gas generation

Two major Tasmanian employers will return to full production earlier than expected under a new agreement with Hydro Tasmania.

Tasmania’s largest energy consumer, Bell Bay Aluminium, will resume full output within five weeks – a full month earlier than expected. The company has voluntarily reduced its electricity consumption by about 10 per cent since February.

Meanwhile, TEMCO will also resume full production within four weeks.

Bell Bay Aluminium and TEMCO employ more than 700 Tasmanians between them.

Hydro Tasmania CEO Steve Davy said extremely high rainfall in May has allowed the early resumption.

“This month is on track to be the wettest May on record in terms of inflows into Hydro storages,” Mr Davy said.

“As of 15 May, inflows were already 150 per cent of the long-term average for the whole month. After extremely dry weather from September to April, that’s very welcome news.

“It has allowed us to reach an agreement for Bell Bay Aluminium and TEMCO to resume full production several weeks ahead of schedule, which is very important for Tasmanian jobs and the local economy.

“The increased demand will be met by hydropower, and help reduce the likelihood of spilling and wasting precious water in our smaller storages.”

A third major company, Norske Skog, recently cut power consumption at its Boyer Mill by more than 40MW for one week in March and April and three days in May.

“We’re extremely grateful to our major customers for the contribution they’ve made to helping Tasmania cope with the recent energy challenge,” Mr Davy said.

Hydro Tasmania is also changing the operating regime of its primary source of gas generation.

“From today, the 208MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine at the Tamar Valley Power Station will be moved to standby mode,” Mr Davy said.

“From that setting, it can be restarted within a fortnight, if required, and we retain the onsite workforce to do that.

“I’d like to thank and acknowledge the team at the Tamar Valley Power Station for the significant contribution they’ve made, and continue to make, to implementing the Energy Supply Plan.

“Achieving a storage level of 20 per cent and getting our major customers back to full production are important steps in recovering from the current energy challenge. But there’s still much work ahead, and no room for complacency,” Mr Davy said.

Hydro Tasmania continues to generate strongly from its smaller storages to prevent or minimise spilling water.

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