Constantly changing the story about why we need Marinus does little to make it sound convincing or credible.
In 2016 a single cable was proposed as a back-up after Basslink failed. That sounded reasonable.
Before any further details arrived, someone figured out if the Australian Government were going to pay, why stop at one, why not two cables. Why not double our renewable energy production, send it northwards, help the nation, save the planet and make a motza.
As more time passed and no clarity around costs and who would pay what was provided, people slowly started to question if Tasmania’s share of the benefits was going to exceed its share of the costs? Who would receive the benefits? Foreign owned wind farms employ few people once built. We do know it will require a change of the national energy rules for Tasmania to avoid paying half the cost. We still don’t know what percentage we would be required to fund.
It was obvious the message wasn’t cutting through. Marinus Rationale V3 was hatched by TasNetworks media and messaging control unit. Michael Bailey CEO of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) was enlisted to sell the message. In November 2022 Marinus was, he said, going to lead to a second wave of industrialisation for the State. Realising that people wanted more than a few wind farms to supply more power to the mainland, we were told there would be an avalanche of new businesses in our State to take advantage of our new green energy, which barely a few months before was destined for the mainland. The largely unnamed new businesses are going to invest unspecified amounts of money to bring benefits that can’t be divulged because it’s commercial in confidence.
The lack of detail again allowed scepticism to spread. If the new energy is going to be used on island, perhaps we don’t need two new cables to connect us to the mainland – we would use it for Tasmanian based businesses.
The most recent announcements have resulted in another flurry of commentary and damage control. The cost increase to a possible $5.5 billion, some suggest even higher, didn’t help the cause and no doubt precipitated the need for Marinus Rationale V4. Mr Bailey delivered the update in a radio interview. Without Marinus we are doomed, he told us. There are no spare electrons. Marinus is now needed to keep the lights on. Business expansion plans were being thwarted by a lack of electricity.
Gosh, are things really that bad?
No they’re not. Last year 2022/23 saw electricity consumption in Tasmania (not including rooftop solar) fall compared to the year before. In an average year electricity from water and wind meets our needs and we still have
Basslink as a back-up. Actually 22/23 was a slightly above average rainfall year, which meant that with Basslink imports exceeding exports, dam levels rose.
The electricity market and its operations are complex and not well understood by most not directly engaged in the sector. Taking advantage of the complexities of the electricity market to make baseless assertions and alarmist claims eats away at the fabric of our democratic processes.
Calls for openness, transparency and accessible information have led to a minority government. The people of Tasmania deserve much more than spin, scaremongering and a lack of clear, accurate information from a government owned business that is only directly scrutinised in Parliament for up to three hours a year at Government Business Scrutiny hearings.
If you can’t explain what you are proposing, you either don’t understand it or you are hiding something.
Or perhaps it’s a dud.
15 August, 2023