Tasmanians enjoy a level of access to energy (electricity, natural gas and petroleum products) which by international standards is extremely reliable. In Tasmania, disruption to energy supply is most commonly experienced when severe weather impacts the electricity network. However disruptions may also occur for natural gas and petroleum customers as a result of issues with either fuel transportation or a lack of product.
The Tasmanian Government has ultimate responsibility for the state’s energy security, and two statutory officers are responsible for monitoring and advising the Minister for Energy on electricity security matters.
- The Monitor and Assessor role is undertaken by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator.
- The Energy Security Coordinator role is undertaken by the Director of Energy Planning, who also advises the Minister for Energy in relation to energy security more generally.
Tasmania’s procedures for managing energy supply disruptions align with national arrangements developed under the auspices of:
- the National Electricity Market Memorandum of Understanding on the Use of Emergency Powers;
- the Memorandum of Understanding in Relation to the National Gas Emergency Response Protocol, Including the Use of Emergency Powers; and
- the Inter-Governmental Agreement in Relation to a National Liquid Fuel Emergency.
The Tasmanian Government also has emergency powers to use in situations that cannot be managed by industry alone. While intervention is seldom required, the Government does heighten its monitoring and coordination activities when energy security risks increase.
Management of hydro-electric water storages
Prudent management of water storages for generating hydro-electricity is essential for Tasmania’s energy security.
During 2015-16 Tasmania experienced one of the most significant energy security challenges in its history, due to record low rainfall and an unforeseen outage of the Basslink cable.
The Tasmanian Government responded to this challenge, together with energy businesses, to ensure the State’s energy requirements were met.
The Tasmanian Energy Security Taskforce was subsequently established and hydro-electric water storages are now managed in line with the Energy Security Risk Response Framework, which is detailed in Chapter 10 of the Taskforce’s Final Report.
In the context of electricity, the Tasmanian Government has adopted the following definition of energy security:
Energy security is the adequate, reliable and competitive supply of low carbon emissions energy across short, medium and long-term timeframes that supports the efficient use of energy by Tasmanians for their economic and social activities.
Under the Energy Security Risk Response Framework the Monitor and Assessor oversees water storage management, with reference to a Prudent Storage Level (PSL) and a High Reliability Level (HRL). If storage levels fall below the PSL or HRL, an escalating series of actions are taken (first by the Monitor and Assessor, or if levels fall below HRL, by the Energy Security Coordinator) to ensure appropriate planning and action is taken to restore adequate water storage levels.