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Basslink hit with AU$38.5 million in damages via 2015 outage arbitration

Arbitrator finds the December 2015 outage was not due to a force majeure event.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The long-running saga on the outage suffered by Basslink in December 2015 reached a form of conclusion this week, with a trio of arbitration processes being finalised this week.

The results were not favourable to Basslink, with the Tasmanian government and Hydro Tasmania carrying the day, and Basslink looking down the barrel of AU$38.5 million in damages, and having its AU$31 million claim against Hydro Tasmania dismissed. The arbitrator further determined that the outage was not due to a force majeure event.

Basslink said it would now consider its next steps.

"We are obviously extremely disappointed with the outcomes," Basslink chief Malcolm Eccles said.

"We will need some time to review the decisions and consider the implications. In the meantime, Basslink continues to operate efficiently and reliably, connecting Tasmania to the national electricity market."

In March 2018, the Tasmanian government sought AU$122 million in compensation due to the Basslink cable to the mainland, which carries electricity and data, being down for six months.

The outage began in December 2015, with Basslink finally completing its cable jointing repairs in June 2016 following months-long delays due to excess water damage and inclement weather.

The outage had lasted so long that the Tasmanian government got involved, with then-Minister for Information Technology and Innovation Michael Ferguson also reprimanding TPG for not buying additional capacity on Telstra's alternate cables during the outage.

Basslink and the government then engaged in a war of duelling reports, with the government-owned Hydro Tasmania saying the outage was caused by the operating limits of the cable being exceeded, while a Basslink report put forward the now-dismissed claim it was a result of a force majeure event.

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