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Tasmanian government wants compo over 2015-16 Basslink failure

Tasmania's government has threatened legal action against the owners of the Basslink cable that failed in 2015, contributing to an energy crisis in the state.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The Tasmanian government has threatened to take legal action against the operators of a Bass Strait electricity cable that failed and contributed to an energy crisis in the state.

Energy Minister Guy Barnett said on Thursday the government believes it is entitled to damages over the Basslink outage in December 2015.

"The state proposes to initiate the dispute next week unless Basslink agrees to compensate it for its losses," he said in a statement.

At the end of last year, Basslink rejected an analysis of its subsea cable outage of 2015-16 released by Hydro Tasmania that said the subsea cable was pushed beyond its design limits.

"The DNV GL analysis indicates that the cable had been operated by BPL in a manner that allowed it to exceed its temperature design limits during a number of periods in its service life. This overheating and subsequent cooling of the cable has resulted in degradation of the cable," Hydro Tasmania said at the time.

"DNV GL concluded that the cable failure was the probable result of electrical energy discharge within the cable as a result of polarity reversal and cooling shortly before the 20 December 2015 cable failure."

Basslink retorted that the report merely put forward one idea and did not provide any "conclusive and definitive proof".

"Hydro Tasmania's experts did no actual testing on the Basslink cable or any similar HVDC [high-voltage direct current] cables. They used a theoretical model based on certain assumptions to come to a set of conclusions," Basslink CEO Malcolm Eccles said. "These assumptions make the experts' conclusions speculative and not based on actual facts."

The Basslink Interconnector was down between December 2015 and June 2016, with the fault discovered 90.5km from the Tasmanian coastline, and removed and capped three months after going down.

Basslink completed its cable joint repairs in June 2016 following months-long delays due to excess water damage. The cable carries electricity and fibre-optics for wholesale broadband services to the Apple Isle.

Telstra announced in August that it completed part of an upgrade to its transmission network to Tasmania.

"The upgrade will more than double Telstra's capacity on two subsea cables across Bass Strait to 1 terabit per second each, or the equivalent of 200,000 HD videos being streamed simultaneously," Telstra COO Robyn Denholm said.

With AAP

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