Thursday, 29 October 2009

Hydro profits despite drought

Hobart Mercury
Wednesday 28/10/2009 Page: 13

ONE-third of Tasmania's electricity supply for the past year came from interstate, Hydro Tasmania said yesterday. The state-owned business recorded an operating profit of $38 million in the 2008-09 financial year, a turnaround on last year's loss of $58 million. Hydro said the good result was achieved despite below-average inflows and a decision to rebuild storages. The result was a net import of power across the Basslink cable.

Generation from Tasmania's hydro assets made up about 67% of local electricity consumption. No dividend was paid to the State Government after three years of drought. Winter rain has boosted storages to almost 47%, the best in six years, but Hydro chairman David Crean said challenges remained. He said there was some way to go before Hydro's returns matched those of its national competitors.

Dr Crean said Hydro was focused on trying to be competitive in an increasingly tough market, particularly with the entry of the gas-fired Tamar Valley Power Station. Chief executive officer Vince Hawksworth said the purchase of Momentum Energy, an independent retailer in Victoria, and the sale of Roaring 40s' Asian assets signalled the changing nature of the business. Hydro released only a summary yesterday with the full annual report expected today.