Tasmanian manufacturers at risk if energy crisis continues

Tasmania’s Minerals and Energy Council has warned that the state’s energy crisis continuing into the year’s second half could see energy-intensive manufacturers put in jeopardy.

“They’ve been to their boards and said, ‘We’ve made a decision to wind back our consumption of power, and this is what it’ll mean to our output’. The boards have accepted that on the information supplied,” the Council’s chief executive Wayne Bould told The Australian.

“And now if it looks like going on much longer than that, these guys are going to be under some pressure from those boards, going ‘Well, hang on a sec, you told us this was all going to be over by May, what’s going on’?”

About six-tenths of the state’s power is used by a small collection of energy-hungry manufacturers, such as Bell Bay Aluminium, Nyrstar and Norkse Skog.

Bell Bay, which employs around 1,500, uses approximately a quarter of Tasmania’s energy. It warned earlier this month that if it cut production further – this is down a tenth in the last five months – then it would have to lay off workers.  

The state is under pressure from record low storage levels in its hydro dams, some of which have fallen to 13.6 per cent of capacity, according to Sky News.

The Basslink cable, which supplies electricity from Victoria, is also damaged, and might not be fixed until May 31.

Energy minister Matthew Groom told state parliament yesterday that he realised the use of diesel generators was unpopular and expensive, but there was no choice.

"The energy supply plan is about ensuring that we can continue to meet Tasmania's energy requirements, that's why we brought in the diesel (generators)" Sky reports him as saying.  

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