|Founded||1929 (as HEC); 1998|
|Key people||D.M.Crean (Chairman)
R. Adair (CEO)
|Products||2615 MW of Electricity|
|Operating income||(A$) 79,367,000|
|Subsidiaries||Momentum Energy, Entura|
Hydro Tasmania, known for most of its history as The Hydro, is the government owned enterprise which is the predominant electricity generator in the state of Tasmania, Australia. The HEC was originally oriented towards hydro-electricity, due to Tasmania's dramatic topography and relatively high rainfall in the central and western parts of the state.
In 1914, the State Government set up the Hydro-Electric Department (changed to the Hydro-Electric Commission in 1929) to complete the first HEC power station, the Waddamana power stations. Prior to that two private hydro-electric stations had been opened the Launceston City Council's Duck Reach Power Station, opened 1895 on the South Esk River (it was one of the first hydro-electric power stations in the southern hemisphere. Reefton in New Zealand is the first municipal hydro-station, beginning operations in 1888) and the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company's Lake Margaret Power Station, opened in 1914. Both these power stations were taken over by the HEC and closed in 1955 and 2006 respectively
Following the Second World War in the 1940s and early 1950s, many migrants came to Tasmania to work for the HEC with construction of dams and sub-stations. This was similar to the Snowy Mountains Scheme in New South Wales and similar effects in bringing in a significant number of people into the local community enriching the social fabric and culture of each state. Most constructions in this era were concentrated in the centre of the island.
As the choice of rivers and catchments in the central highlands were exhausted, the planners and engineers began serious surveying of the rivers of the west and south west regions of the state. The long term vision of those within the HEC and the politicians in support of the process, was for continued utilisation of all of the state's water resources.
As a consequence of such a vision, the politicians and HEC bureaucrats were able to create the upper Gordon river power development schemes despite worldwide dismay at the loss of the original Lake Pedder. The hydro-industrialisation of Tasmania was seen as paramount above all, and the complaints from outsiders were treated with disdain.
Interrupted dam making
Following the flooding of Lake Pedder by the HEC for the upper Gordon Power Development and the subsequent backlash against the HEC incursions into the south west wilderness of Tasmania, environmental groups of the 1970s and 80s alerted the rest of Australia to the continued power that the HEC had over the Tasmanian environment and politics.
When the HEC proposed a dam on the Gordon River, sited below the Franklin River, there was widespread and vigorous opposition. During the Franklin River 'No Dams' campaign it was common for members of families to be in conflict with one another by being aligned with the HEC proposals or the Conservationists.
The Tasmanian Government attempted to resolve the dispute by offering a compromise dam, sited on the Gordon River above the Olga River, which would have avoided flooding the Franklin River. However, almost no-one wanted this compromise. Conservationist were concerned that the Franklin River area and surrounding wilderness would be damaged, and those in favour of a dam preferred an option that would utilise the Franklin's water as well as the Gordon's water.
The Tasmanian Government then offered a referendum on the issue, which only offered two choices: the Gordon below Franklin dam and the Gordon above Olga dam. There was widespread condemnation that the referendum did not offer a 3rd choice of not having any dam on the Gordon River, and various opinions were offered as to the best way of communicating this at the ballot box. As it turned out, of the 92% of eligible voters to attended the voting booths that day, 47% voted for the Gordon below Franklin option, with the remainder voting informally (45%) or for the Gordon above Olga option (8%). The conservationists were ultimately successful in their campaign to stop any dam on the Gordon River, and the proposal and early works on the Gordon-below-Franklin Dam ended in 1983 when it was blockaded by the environmentalists and the state lost a High Court challenge to the Commonwealth's powers.
The compromise between the State and Federal government and conservationists led the HEC to see the end of an over fifty year long dam making enterprise in the construction of the Henty River and King River power developments.
The limits reached
The conservationists and the HEC in the 1980s acknowledged that there were a limited range of options for further power development schemes, and it was inevitable that the substantial workforce within the HEC specifically employed in the investigation and development of further dams would eventually become redundant.
Since the late 1990s HEC water storages have been progressively drawn down due to power demand exceeding long term supply, the overcoming of which was the original reason the Gordon-below-Franklin dam was proposed. The shortfall has been offset first by drawing down water storage and in latter years through increasing volumes of fossil fuel power generation, at first fuelled by oil and more recently by gas and, via the Basslink cable link to Victoria, coal.
Legacy of the HEC
The organisation clearly was an important one in the history of Tasmania, and thousands of Tasmanians have been employed or are related to employees and past employees. In recognition of its place in history, not just in environmental issues controversy, the organisation has employed staff to work on the legacy and cultural heritage of the Hydro.
The people who had been employees of the HEC in the 1940s to the 1980s were an important part of the population of Tasmania, and the heritage and oral history issues of the institution have been acknowledged by the recent management of Hydro Tasmania in employing people to make a reasonable record of that era, and earlier.
The responsibility to its heritage has not prevented the organisation in its move to rationalise, and the current status of the Lake Margaret Power Station has led the Hydro to have produced a comprehensive heritage survey of the site prior to its decommissioning as an active part of the system.
From HEC to Hydro Tasmania
Hydro Tasmania was formed on the disaggregation of the Hydro-Electric Commission on July 1, 1998. This resulted in the division of the formerly government owned department into three companies—Hydro Tasmania which generates the power, Transend Networks which transmits it across the state, and Aurora Energy, the retail arm, which sells and distributes it to customers. This was in anticipation of Tasmania joining the National Electricity Market, which occurred in May 2005.
Hydro Tasmania is presently (March 2010) a government owned enterprise. There is a case in Tasmania for the company to be privatised; both to raise revenue and to improve company efficiency. The Liberals supported privatisation in the 1990s but failed to convince the public of its merits. They have now reversed this policy. The Labor Party and the Tasmanian Greens have never openly supported privatisation; however many speculate that the Labor Party will support this move in the future. Some evidence of this first arose in late 2003 when Labor allowed Hydro Tasmania to sell its subsidiary software business, Hydstra, to a German competitor and again in 2005 when they allowed the sale of part of its financial interests in wind farm company, Roaring 40s to a Chinese company CLP Power Asia. However the present policy of all three major political parties is against privatisation and community opinion mostly supports public ownership.
Facing the future
The Hydro of the first decade of the 21st century saw the loss of the old dam building generation, to an adept at accommodating larger world wide trends—The Anthony Power Development, was considered to be part of the last hydro-electric power development in Tasmania. The 1,000 GWH Project has seen upgrades to component parts of existing superstructure operated by the Hydro, and on-going progress towards being a carbon neutral operation.
Starting from the 1990s, Hydro Tasmania is investing in wind farms, the first one being the Huxley Hill Wind Farm on King Island completed in 1998. This was followed by two wind farms at Woolnorth with a combined capacity of 140MW. Construction of a fourth power station, the Musselroe Wind Farm with a generating capacity of 168 MW was under way in 2012.
The Hydro-Electric Department (1914–1930)
Chief Engineer and General Manager
- Sir John Butters C.M.G., M.B.E., M.I.C.E. (1914–1924)
- H.A. Curtis, A.M.I.E. Aust., A.Am.I.E.E. (1925–1930)
The Hydro-Electric Commission (1930–1996)
- H.A. Curtis (1930–1933)
- W.E.Maclean (1940–1946)
- Sir Allan Knight (1946–1977)
- Russell Ashton (1977–1987)
- Acting Ron Harvey (1987–1989)
- Graeme Longbottom (1990–1994)
- Acting Gary Baker (1995–1996)
- C.B. Davies (1930–1941)
- M.W. Simmons (1930)
- R.L. Parker (1931–1935)
- J.E. Heritage (1935–1947)
- C.E.H. Ferguson (1941–1947)
- W.H. Nicol (1947–1954)
- A Burn (1951–1959)
The Hydro-Electric Corporation (1996–1999)
- Dan Norton (1996–1998)
- Gary Baker (1998–1999)
Hydro Tasmania (1999-present)
- Geoff Willis (1999–2006)
- Vince Hawksworth (2006–2010)
- Roy Adair June (2010–)
Source of later names from Felton Tickleblly tales, pp. 481–482.
- Hydro Tasmania: "Annual Report 2012"
- Hydro Tasmania: "Our power stations", retrieved 17 December 2012
- Lake Pedder Submission 1995
- Pink. Kerry (2001) Through Hells Gates: A History of Strahan and Macquarie Harbour Fifth edition ISBN 06463666653 pp.71-88 for accounts of the Organisation for Tasmanian Development and others
- "Referendums - Tasmania". Parliament.tas.gov.au. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
- [dead link]
- Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Year Book, Issue 87, 1995 p.552
- "Australia utility to upgrade hydro system to add 1,000 GWh". Hydroworld.com. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
- "Carbon neutral target part of response to climate change | Hydro Tasmania". Hydro.com.au. 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
- "Hydro Tasmania Annual & Sustainability Report 2009 | Our Performance". Hydro.com.au. 2009-06-30. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
- Shepherd, Robert. "Allan Knight 1910–1998", p.202 of The Companion to Tasmanian History
- From Garvie, A million horses
Hydro Tasmania publications
- Fenton, Heather (2008) Ticklebelly tales and other stories from the people of the Hydro, Hobart: Hydro Tasmania. ISBN 978-0-646-47724-4 (hbk.)
- Garvie, R. M. H. (1962) A million horses: Tasmania's power in the mountains Hobart: Hydro-Electric Commission, Tasmania.
- Lupton, Roger. (1999) Lifeblood: Tasmania's Hydro Power Publisher: Edgecliff, N.S.W. Focus Publishing, ISBN 0-87535-933-8], noting (C) Hydro Tasmania and pp. 428–430 Reviewers Biographies - 13 HEC staff and retired staff as reviewers of Luptons work - as a commissioned history
- Quirk, Marilyn. & Arts Tasmania. & Hydro Tasmania (2006), Echoes on the mountain: remarkable migrant stories from the hydro villages of the Tasmanian central highlands' Quirk. 'Heybridge, Tas.
- Scanlon, Andrew. (1995) Water power 2nd ed. [1st ed 1990] Hobart: Hydro-Electric Commission, Tasmania. ISBN 0-7246-4231-5
- http://www.hydro.com.au Hydro Tasmania
- http://www.momentum.com.au Momentum
- http://www.entura.com.au Entura
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