From: nick mcshane

1/08/00 14:17:45

Subject: re: Basslink Sucks.......

post id: 108810 In response to the discussion so far, I take the opportunity to point out a few facts relating to Basslink.

Basslink is the planned undersea high voltage direct current power cable across Bass Strait that will link Tasmania's electricity grid with Australia's national electricity grid and enable Tasmania to join the National Electricity Market (NEM).

"Will link"? Why bother going through the charade of an approvals process if the outcome is guaranteed?

Following a comprehensive proponent selection process, undertaken by the Basslink Development Board, the Tasmanian Government selected National Grid International Ltd (NGIL) as its preferred developer to build, own and operate Basslink as a commercial opportunity in the NEM.

This still does not give any transparency as to who initiated the idea, what vested interests they (the initiators) may have that ought to be declared, and what alternative energy market scenarios the Tasmanian government considered before embarking on the selection and approvals process. Just because it is a "commercial opportunity" does not necessarily make it a common sense, or even prudent thing to do, and yet any alternative proposals are REQUIRED to be prudent according to the Scope Guidelines document1. What arguments have been publicly advanced by the proponents that have demonstrated conclusively that Basslink is in any way prudent? Prudence in the post-Kyoto world needs to be interpreted more widely than purely short-term commercial prudence: who is going to pay for the excess greenhouse gas emissions? Are Tasmanians going to be precluded from taking legal action against the proponents for any real costs they may incur in the future as a result of having to adapt to global warming, or to clean up after extreme weather events? Narrow "commercial" prudence might see the proponents seeking to write just such escape clauses into the arrangements with the Tasmanian, Victorian and Federal governments, in an attempt to avoid the consequences of their actions. If the Tasmanian people are prudent from an environmental, especially greenhouse emission perspective, they will ensure that this project never comes to fruition.

The Tasmanian Government is not making any direct financial contribution towards the development or operation of Basslink. Rather, Basslink is being developed and funded entirely by NGIL as a commercial opportunity in the NEM.

Please supply a comprehensive costing of the indirect expenditure to date, and projected, that Australian governments have sunk into this project.

NGIL is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Grid Group PLC (National Grid), one of the UK's 100 largest companies. National Grid builds, owns and operates electricity and telecommunications networks in countries around the world, with its core business of transmission systems concentrated in the UK and the North-Eastern United States. Further information on National Grid operations and environmental responsibilities and capabilities are available at

Without Basslink, Tasmania will not have a secure electricity supply in the future as current electricity demand and the long-term supply capability of the State's hydro power system are now in balance, but with demand continuing to grow. The Tasmanian Government has looked at a number of supply options and found that Basslink represents a highly cost-effective and environmentally sound long-term solution.

Was universal solar water heating (SHW) considered in detail as an opposing scenario? As I highlighted in my submission to JAP, SHW has excellent synergy with hydro, because sun and rain are wonderfully complementary energy sources in the Tasmanian context. For $500 million you could manufacture and install 200,000 units: probably enough for each Tasmanian household to get one. Each unit saves around 4000 kWh per year: total for Tasmania is thus around 800 GWh annually. This represents the same energy as 200,000 Tasmanian households drawing 300 MW (1.5 kilowatts each) for 7.3 hours every night across Bass Strait: In the absence of Basslink, how many gigalitres of water does this save during sunny (non-rainy!) weather, just when you need to conserve hydro water the most? We know how many tonnes of CO2 emissions are saved by solar, compared to baseload coal: with 10% losses, 800 GWh delivered to Tasmania is 880 GWh via the Loy Yang switchyard each year - for brown coal this is of course 1.2 MT of CO2 emissions each year. To offset those emissions with new Tasmanian wind farms will require 305 MW of installed wind farm capacity with a capacity factor of 30%. How many MW of wind turbines are committed in Tasmania at the present time? Unless there are guaranteed renewables to offset the huge blowout in Tasmania's greenhouse gas emissions, your project must inevitably have grossly negative greenhouse gas implications. Whether or not Senator Hill has been able to get federal cabinet to adopt the greenhouse trigger legislation, it is clearly time the Tasmanian public took matters into their own hands, by pledging to install solar hot water next time their hot water service needs replacing. This is not only people power, but genuine energy market competition which NGIL and the Tasmanian government should applaud.

I get really suspicious when you use the term "electricity demand": we are now in an energy market, in a post-Kyoto third millennium. It is time electricity stopped regarding itself as a special case when it comes to satisfying the reasonable energy requirements of Tasmanians. The corporate welfare must stop, and the energy market must remove barriers to the entry of new participants. Former SECV and HEC types have to seriously broaden their horizons, and become conscious of the strait jacket mind-set which refuses to acknowledge the enormous economic and environmental efficiency of such things as insulation, evaporative cooling, low energy light globes, solar water heating, all of which have a much lower environmental impact than Basslink allowing baseload coal power into your state. Demand continues to grow because vested interests do not want it to stop growing. Demand management and efficiency measures can achieve substantial "negawatt capacity" within the existing inefficient system ("system" in this context includes every commercial, industrial and residential customer's loads).

Where is the data on which the Government concluded Basslink to be "environmentally sound" - does that data even mention greenhouse emissions?

Basslink will allow for the import of electricity from other States and the export of Tasmania's hydro electricity to those States. This import and export of electricity is likely to occur on a daily basis. Tasmania's hydro system will look to export electricity during those peak demand periods of the day when the price for electricity in other States is high. On the other hand, electricity is likely to be imported when prices in other States are low. The capacity to do this results from the unique characteristics of Tasmania's hydro electric system, which can be operated to supply electricity to meet peak demand more efficiently than most thermal based (ie, coal fired) generators in other States.

NGIL's proposal is to build a link with a continuous capacity rating of 480MW (average) for export and 300MW (average) for import. The cable will have a dynamic rating capability that will allow it to be run at 600MW for export purposes for a maximum of 12 hours, subject to defined pre and post cooling periods. Due to constraints on the Tasmanian transmission system, the import capacity will be restricted to 300MW average.

"...........warming the mud at the bottom of Bass Strait." Are these figures supposed to make many readers assume that the net energy flow will be northwards? You and I know that if that were true, the mainland landfall would logically be at the Portland smelter. We need to know GWh in each direction, not capacities in each direction.

NGIL is developing Basslink as a Market Network Service Provider, previously known as a "non-regulated" interconnector (this previous terminology did not mean that the interconnector was not subject to the National Electricity Code (NEC), rather, that it did not receive a regulated income stream determined under the NEC). This means that Basslink must generate its revenues from the sale of its services in the NEM. Unlike the "regulated" transmission systems in the NEM, Basslink will have no rights to a regulated income stream recovered through transmission charges levied on electricity customers generally.

Where on the Basslink website, or in publicly available documents has this "fact" been disseminated? The wording you use does NOT say that Basslink will not be a regulated asset: it seems nobody is clearly stating that NGIL will guarantee not to apply to the ACCC/NECA (or whomever) to become a regulated asset, but that is pecisely the sort of commitment they should be prepared to make. "NGIL is developing Basslink as....." can hardly be considered as a legally binding commitment not to seek (or to accept an offer of) regulated status.

Basslink will be a $500 million investment in Australia that will improve the efficiency of utilisation of both the mainland's coal and other thermal resources and Tasmania's hydro electricity and other renewable resources.

$500 million of capital investment might want a 7 to 15 per cent return on investment for the shareholders, so somehow or other half a million Tasmanians will be paying $37-75 per person each year to fund the shareholders return on investment. They could save $200 (per household) in hot water bills each year if they had a solar water heater.

Every time the baseload coal industry finds a new scam to improve its "efficiency" on paper, whether it be thermal efficiency or economic efficiency, it is the prelude to the plans of the NEXT baseload coal power station getting off the drawing board. This is suicidal if the climate scientists are right, and your emissions are causing global warming. Chronic high voltage at night is costing commercial and residential customers millions of dollars a year in inflated electricity bills, and the only operational "reason" that I can possibly think of for the observed voltage patterns, is to artificially inflate demand at night to appease the baseload generators, who need that continuity of "demand". It is the voltage settings and the manipulative tariffs which are MANUFACTURING the so-called "demand" - see my verifiable experimental results for power consumption of HPS street luminaires at If the system continues to evolve along the "baseload is good" rationale, the system will prefer a flat load profile: tariff structures will encourage this as long as baseload coal is looking to enhance the night-time market. Eventually when the world realises that emissions must be massively reduced to avoid catastrophe, such a system will be tailor made for the nuclear fission lobby to persuade panicking governments that we must go nuclear. Basslink encourages baseload generation; baseload generation prefers a flat load profile; greenhouse panic will then raise the serious risk of politicians being panicked into approving nuclear power stations: do you want this on your conscience? This is why "nuclear fusion primary heat exchangers" (solar water heaters) - the environmentally responsible form of nuclear power - should be fast-tracked as Tasmania's signal to the world that you are paying more than lip-service to the sustainable delivery of customers' energy needs. I say again, it is an energymarket, not just an electricity market.

In Tasmania Basslink will have the following general benefits for Tasmania

- Provide access to a reliable and flexible additional source of electricity supply that can meet future increases in electricity demand in Tasmania;

This ignores the cost-effective and sustainable option of "negawatts". So-called "demand" is being manufactured through cheap off-peak tariffs, chronic high voltage, absence of effective environmental DSM, and wasteful end-use practices.

- Through entry to the NEM, allow the introduction of sustainable competition and customer choice in the supply of electricity in Tasmania;

With respect, there is nothing the least bit sustainable about competition within NEM on the mainland - it is an unmitigated environmental disaster, ever since some bastards in NGMC removed environmental objectives from the CoAG guidelines on electricity industry reform in the early 1990s. Kennett and Stockdale sold off our assets with the promise that we would soon have retail competition at all levels. In reality we will have deemed profiles instead of smart meters, and none of the market signals will be seen by the end-users. If this is competition, then the naked emperor is indeed clothed in the finest of garments.

- Improve the security of supply of electricity for Tasmanian consumers;

Electricity is only a component of the overall energy market, and as I have already pointed out, 200,000 solar water heaters with a peak power output of (5kW x 200,000) = 1000 MW of pure nuclear fusion power can synergise with the existing hydro system to provide enormous security of electricity supply, even though it is not electricity which these solar panels actually produce.

- Safeguard Tasmania's electricity supplies from the impact of drought (that is, it will reduce Tasmania's exposure to hydrological risk);

Ditto for solar water heaters

- Provide a robust and competitive regulatory framework for encouraging new investment in Tasmania's electricity supply industry;

You mean like the regulatory capture of the ORG in Victoria, where the industry is ripping off the customers, and ORG says "go away and keep negotiating"?

- Allow Tasmania to develop its high quality wind energy resources and thereby contribute to meeting Australia's international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

You can do this with or without Basslink, but solar hot water would be a cheaper option to start with: around $40/MWh compared with perhaps $70 to $80/MWh for wind power. In capital terms a peak power of 4 kW solar water heater costs around $3000: 75 cents per peak watt. Wind turbines fully installed are unlikely to come in much under $1.5 million per MW - this is of course $1.50 per peak watt. It is outrageously specious to argue that any alleged boost to wind power stimulated by Basslink can possibly offset the huge increases in emissions from baseload coal - also engendered by the implementation of Basslink. You MUST come clean on the net emissions effect of Basslink, and stop misleading the politicians and the public with this specious nonsense.

- Provide a nationally accepted and certain regulatory framework that will assist Duke Energy International to implement its plans to bring natural gas ashore in Tasmania;

Since when did foreign multinationals need any assistance to make a buck? - if you are assisting the powerful, it is probably a case of corporate welfare. Economic certainty is like prostitution: global capital treats sovereign nations like whores to be screwed, and successive Australian governments are consenting to the rape of our environment: logging, wood chipping, bauxite mining, agribusiness' land clearing and salinity. Getting natural gas to Tasmania may in this instance be a good thing, but if you implement the solar water heating scenario, it may not even be necessary at this stage, and what about BHP, or a consortium with at least a bit of Aussie content?. If Duke does get the green light, they will probably get the Tasmanian government to sign up to some fine print, or have a back room deal where solar water heaters will be actively discouraged by the Tasmanian Government (the Energy Efficiency Victoria web site section on solar hot water was totally emasculated during the Kennett/Stockdale era). It is already apparent that many sections of the fossil fuel industry and electricity industry are happy to go the length and breadth of the country bad-mouthing solar water heating technology, spreading lies and misinformation, while the ACCC does nothing from the sidelines.

- Expand the trading opportunities for Tasmania's energy businesses by opening up significant new markets for them in other States; and

This can also be done by manufacturing and exporting solar water heaters to the mainland. Every single 5 sq. metre heating unit exported is (4 MWh/yr x 25 years) = 100 MWh exported interstate.

- Through the installation of a fibre optic telecommunications cable alongside the HVDC cable, incorporate Tasmania's second fibre-optic telecommunications link with mainland Australia. It is expected that this will open the way for greater competition and capacity in the telecommunications sector in the State.

It is expected that incompetent or illegal trawlers will fracture the strands on a regular basis. Is this not a problem in Cook Strait, too?

For Victoria and other NEM States, Basslink will:

- Provide a new source of competitive generation in the NEM;

Competition is part of globalisation's "race to the bottom", where labour and environment are squeezed while the corporations take windfall profits out of the country via the Cayman Islands (Entergy set up four indirect-ownership entities in the Caymans when they owned CitiPower). Presently Powercor Australia is owned by Scottish Power via Pacificor Australia LLC (Delaware, Nevada, Bahamas, who knows?), and ALL my in-laws in Sunshine, Footscray, Hoppers Crossing, Werribee, Gisborne and Ballarat have to put up with Powercor's chronic high voltage of almost exactly 252 volts day and night, which can inflate their power bills by up to eight per cent. When is this exploitation of the weak by the power-crazed going to stop?

- Improve the reliability of supply in Victoria and South Australia during peak electricity demand times;

Conversely, we could argue that the risk of the cable being damaged or severed poses a serious threat to system security, by discouraging investment in land-based distributed generation and renewable energy solutions for Tasmania and the mainland.

- Provide a new source of renewable energy for the NEM;

Again, solar hot water is half the cost per MWh when compared with wind power, and on a par with bagasse. It has nothing to do with NEM, but is a legitimate energy market solution, especially where the synergies clearly exist, and where you obviously have up to 600 MW of excess peak generating capacity. (Boy, those HEC guys were ambitious with generation investment - if you build Basslink, then the sunk capital expenditure doesn't look so reckless.)

- Provide the potential for lower peak electricity prices in the NEM;

You can have ZERO peak electricity prices with my solar powered evaporative cooler - see When the temperature is 38°C and there is a power blackout, a VOLL of $25,000/MWh will not keep you cool, but this little gadget will!

Basslink is undergoing a rigorous, comprehensive and transparent impact assessment process in accordance with the Combined Assessment and Approvals Process (CAAP) that has been negotiated between the Tasmanian, Commonwealth and Victorian Governments.

The assessment process will examine all the environmental, social, community and economic impacts, both positive and negative, of Basslink. It will also examine the effects on Tasmania's rivers and lakes and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area of any changes to Hydro Tasmania's operations that may arise when Basslink becomes operational.

The guidelines that will apply to the assessment process are expected to require the examination of all issues regarding the impact of Basslink, including those related to visual amenity; flora and fauna; marine and coastal processes; cultural heritage; social, economic and communities; public health and safety; greenhouse gas emissions; and geology and hydrology.

It is expected that the independent Joint Advisory Panel, appointed by the Victorian, Tasmanian and Commonwealth Government's to oversee the assessment process for Basslink, will finalise and publish the final guidelines for the assessment of Basslink in the next few weeks.

If the draft assessment guidelines recently advertised by the Joint Advisory Panel are any indication, the final assessment guidelines will be amongst the most comprehensive and rigorous ever laid down for an Australian infrastructure project.

NGIL will then have to develop and lodge with the Joint Advisory Panel a comprehensive impact assessment statement that complies with the guidelines.

The scientific investigations necessary to prepare the impact assessment will be extremely thorough and have been underway for some time. NGIL was selected as the developer partly on its experience in the development of such projects around the world and its expertise in the development of measures to mitigate (minimise) the impact of the marine, coastal and land based infrastructure. Further information on the progress with the development of the impact assessment and the scientific investigations can be obtained from the Basslink enquiry line,

As part of its assessment process, the Panel will publicly exhibit NGIL's impact statement, invite public submissions and hold public hearings. NGIL is expected to lodge its impact assessment statement with the Joint Advisory Panel around mid-October this year.

The tone of the eight paragraphs above seems to reinforce my perception that you regard the project as a fait accompli, totally unstoppable, no matter what technical, scientific, economic, environmental arguments could be raised against it. If this is indeed the case from your perspective, then please inform me of the previous opportunities I have missed to influence the "movers and shakers" in your state? I suspect that there has never in fact been a transparent public opportunity for interested parties with alternate energy solutions to convince the Tasmanian government of the obsolescence of these environmentally destructive type of developments in the post-Kyoto era. Just like the Concorde on its take-off run you think you have reached the point of no return as you scream down the runway desperate to generate enough lift. I am your leaking fuel tank, and this project must crash and burn. Nothing personal.

I trust this information allows the ABC's Science forum to conduct an objective and informed debate on Basslink.

Nick McShane
Assistant Director
Basslink Development Board

Attached is a graph showing how the Victorian baseload market has been so successfully enhanced by voltage settings, tariffs, and a coal industry with a gung-ho approach to megalomania. They now tell us that magnesium is the new wonder metal which is "greenhouse friendly" because it "will make cars lighter". Maybe they're worried that the aluminium industry has just "discovered" technologies that will reduce smelting power requirements by over 30 per cent!! No wonder they are keen on Basslink. Basslink will just prop up the dinosaurs who don't yet realise that they are extinct.

1 RPDC_BL.pdf - Draft Scope Guidelines for IIAS, page 71