The Snowy 2.0 Pumped hydro scheme will cost families big money, spread pests, endanger fish, and kill trees but it will allow some renewables investors to make a profit, and that’s all that matters right?
Overseas readers are invited to submit more stupid schemes, with points for delays, cost, incompetence, environmental damage and sheer lack of any public benefit.
Ted Woodley does the best synopsis of the Snowy 2.0 debacle I’ve seen, pointing out how it sets all the worst kinds of records, being delayed 300% with costs up 1000%. It was supposed to be built in four years and cost $2 billion, but will end up taking 12 years (at least) and probably cost $20 billion by the time the cost of the extra transmission lines is added in. As readers here know, the boring machines are the slowest on Earth, one having made it only 200m and being paused for months under a pile of sand.
It was supposed to pay for itself, and make electricity cheaper, but is already chewing through a $1.4 billion taxpayer “injection”, with more to come and even the Snowy Hydro team admit public electricity prices will rise because of Snowy 2.0. And above all, it was supposed to be renewable and save the environment, but it’s just a big inefficient battery that will infect the top lake with feral perch and other pests, and sacrifice some forest for high voltage transmission lines. It will breach all the usual environmental regulations but that’s OK say The Greens who’ll destroy the environment any day if it keeps their big business and banker pals happy.
To put this is perspective, the invasive redfin perch “is a declared notifiable pest under the Biosecurity Regulation 2017. It is illegal to possess, buy, sell or move this pest in NSW.” But the Snowy 2.0 Scheme will pump the eggs and larva by the gigaton. If you do it, you’re breaking the law, but if the Snowy 2.0 scheme does it, they are environmental heroes.
Ever get the feeling the Environmental Movement is just a mafia cabal?
The Australian Greens love Snowy 2.0 so much they want Snowy Hydro 3.0 with $40 billion in Commonwealth funding.
Jo says — make all the renewable energy generators pay the costs themselves, since they are the only beneficiaries, and obey the laws we all obey, and if the project collapses, which it will, we’ll all be richer. That’s how the free market works…
Ted Woodley, The Australian
Just picking out the costs and environmental damage:
Record three: underestimated cost – $2bn to up to $20bn
Snowy 2.0’s $2bn estimate increased to $3.8bn-$4.5bn in the business case, to $5.1bn for the main contract (only), to $5.9bn now. It is important to note these estimates don’t include all project costs, such as capitalised interest and suppressed dividends during construction, hedging, exploratory and other works, design, project management, and trans-mission. Also, the allowance for contingencies would have been exceeded by $2.2bn of contractor claims, with more to come. The final cost of Snowy 2.0’s main works is likely to exceed $10bn.
Then there’s a further $9bn-plus for 1000km of 500kV transmission connections to Sydney and Melbourne (Sydney Ring South, HumeLink and VIC/NSW interconnector), primarily for Snowy 2.0’s pumping and generation. Snowy Hydro initially estimated $1bn to $2bn. If Snowy Hydro is not compelled to contribute its fair share of the cost, arguably the majority, NSW electricity consumers will face a doubling of transmission tariffs.
An all-up cost for Snowy 2.0 approaching $20bn represents a tenfold increase, surely a record for cost underestimation.
Record six: inducing the NSW government to grant exemptions from environmental legislation
The claim that Snowy 2.0 will incur minimal impact on Kosciuszko National Park is demonstrably false. Vast construction sites across 30km of the park have been cleared, blasted, excavated, reshaped and compacted. Hundreds of kilometres of roads and tracks are being constructed/ widened, and 20 million tonnes of excavated spoil will be dumped (when the TBMs get boring). But it’s the NSW government’s granting of exemptions from statutory protections that sets a record for environmental vandalism.
Snowy 2.0 has been exempted from the statewide ban on transferring noxious pests between waterways. This condones the movement of invasive Redfin perch, among other declared pests, from Talbingo Reservoir to Tantangara Reservoir and then across the alps into the Murray, Snowy, Murrumbidgee and Tumut headwaters, overwhelming native species and devastating trout fishing. Also, Snowy 2.0 has been exempted from the obligation in the Kosciuszko Plan of Management for any additional transmission to be located underground. Four 330kV transmission lines on two sets of 70-metre towers will traverse 8km of the park over a cleared easement swathe up to 140m wide. This will be the first time transmission lines are erected in a NSW national park for 50 years.
Ted Woodley is former managing director of PowerNet, GasNet, EnergyAustralia, GrainCorp and China Light & Power Systems (Hong Kong).
Tantangara aerial photo by Graeme Bartlett
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February 20, 2023 at 12:55PM