King Island Set Free from Turbine Tyranny: Hydro Tasmania Pulls Plug on Chinese Backed Wind Farm

King Island

King Island can rest easy: turbine terror has been averted.


In yet another sign that the Australian wind industry is on its last legs, Hydro Tasmania has pulled up stumps on its plans to spear 600 turbines into the heart of King Island – the jewel of Bass Strait.

In typical wind weasel fashion, Hydro Tasmania sought community “support” for 200 turbines – but that was just phase 1 – when in reality its end game was to lob 600 of the monsters over every last inch of the place.

The proposal had the full backing of the Peoples Republic of China – which saw King Island as a handy anchor for the 600 turbines it planned to supply to its partner (see our post here).

With Australia’s Large-Scale RET on the nose, Hydro Tasmania has announced that it has dropped the project altogether. Here’s an ABC report on Hydro Tasmania’s retreat.

Hydro Tasmania ditches $2b King Island wind farm project
ABC News
27 October 2014

Factors cited by Hydro Tasmania

  • Low $A pushing up costs of turbines and other components
  • Declining demand for power on national grid
  • Projected increase in on-island construction costs

State-owned power generator Hydro Tasmania has killed off a $2 billion wind farm planned for King Island because it says the project is not economically viable.

Hydro had planned to build a 600 megawatt wind farm on the island, with the power generated to be connected to the National Electricity Market via a high-voltage underwater cable across Bass Strait to Victoria.

The wind farm was expected to produce 2,400 gigawatt hours (GWh) of renewable energy for the national market, which is enough to supply around 240,000 homes.

Chief executive Steve Davy said changing economic conditions had seen the estimated capital costs for the wind farm alone increase by around $150 million.

“We have exhausted all avenues by which this concept could progress and now do not believe it appropriate to continue with the feasibility study,” he said.

“We will now focus our resources on further investigating the benefits and viability of a second inter-connector as outlined in the Tasmanian Government’s recent state budget.”

Tasmania’s Energy Minister Matthew Groom said Hydro had “done the right thing”.

“Hydro Tasmania has today made a commercial decision that they won’t be proceeding with the King Island Wind Farm proposal on the grounds that the proposal unfortunately has been found to be not economically viable,” he said.

Donald Graham from the No TasWind Farm Group said “Blind Freddy could see two years ago that the project would not be feasible”.

“Eighteen months ago they told us they needed to spend two years and many millions to do a feasibility study before they could determine if is was feasible,” he said.

“They have done virtually nothing for 12 months and have discovered the obvious answer.  And what did the island get out of it? Nothing other than a severely split community.”

RET uncertainty not a factor 

Hydro director Andrew Catchpole said it was disappointing that the project was abandoned.

“Of course it’s disappointing when a project or an idea doesn’t work out but this happens in business all the time you need to investigate the idea to a point to decide whether it’s viable,” he said.

Hydro Tasmania, Australia’s largest renewable energy company, had voiced concern about future projects because of uncertainty surrounding the country’s Renewable Energy Target (RET).

He said many renewable energy projects across the country would depend on the outcome of the RET negotiations at a federal level but insisted the board’s decision was driven by economics.

“Our investigations eventually found that TasWind was not viable even if the RET was maintained at the existing level,” Mr Davy said.

The company also cited factors such as the lower Australian dollar which was driving up the cost of building the turbines and a drop in demand from the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Federal MP for Braddon Brett Whiteley said the project “did not stack up”.

“It would certainly have boosted jobs on the island and given the local economy a shot in the arm during the construction phase,” he said.

“The Government is committed to supporting a sustainable renewable energy sector with an amended RET that will ensure long-term certainty for the renewables sector so it can continue to contribute to Australia’s diverse energy mix.”

Residents divided on wind farm proposal 

The project had divided residents of King Island, with many strongly opposed to its development.

The 200-turbine wind farm was facing a legal challenge by the No Tas Wind Farm group who argued it did not have enough community backing.

Hydro said the project would not proceed to a feasibility study if the island’s residents did not support it.

A survey taken in mid-2013 found almost 59 per cent of the community wanted the project to proceed.

The wind farm was expected to employ up to 60 workers on King Island if it went ahead.

Mr Davy thanked King Island residents for their input in the process and said Hydro Tasmania would continue to support the island.

“We recognise that the TasWind project has created significant community debate on the island over the past two years,” he said.

“We also recognise that today’s announcement will be received with mixed emotions.”

Mr Whiteley said he hoped the island could move on quickly.

“Although the proposed King Island wind project was not universally supported by the local community, I know some will be disappointed by this announcement,” he said.

“It is hugely disappointing that the process has caused so much division in what has always been a very close knit community.”
ABC News

STT followers will remember Hydro Tasmania as the bunch of liars and thugs that rode roughshod over the close-knit community of King Island in an effort to pepper giant fans all over the jewel of Bass Strait.

In the first round, Hydro Tasmania promised King Island locals that unless 60% supported their planned project, they would simply abandon it – by dropping their planned “feasibility study” (see our posts here and here). Hydro Tasmania then set about buying the votes it needed to show 60% supporting its project (see our post here).

Those shovelling Hydro Tasmania’s cash out to bribe the locals must have flunked basic arithmetic, because they only managed to muster 58.7% of the vote. But, never mind, Hydro Tasmania simply decided to ignore its earlier promise and launched into its feasibility study, anyway (see our post here). So much for keeping promises.

But, as they say: “what goes around, comes around”.

While the ABC reports Hydro Tasmania citing 3 factors that led to retreat, STT thinks they might have overlooked the 10s of $millions that Hydro Tasmania has already lost (and the 100s of $millions it will lose) on their existing Tasmanian wind farm operations – placing risky bets on the price of Renewable Energy Certificates (see our post here).

And, in the irony of ironies, it’s blaming the Federal Government’s RET Review and the threat that the Government will breach its “promise” to retain the mandatory Renewable Energy Target for those losses.

All that self-inflicted financial grief couldn’t be happening to a nicer bunch of lads.

Now that the threat of turbine terror has finally passed, King Islanders can celebrate a fabulous victory.

research team

Every great victory deserves a great celebration.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.


  1. joe miotti says:

    Hey people!! Happy to hear you won one “for the people”. One day when you’re looking for another project bring er over to Alberta Canada,we have a bunch of idiots over here called the NDP government that’s going down the same destructive and costly path with their carbon taxes, wind and solar power, we are doomed to being a lot poorer!!

  2. There is going to be a lot more windweasel greentard goon liars biting the dust before it is all over, as it is only just begun. It could not happen to a nicer bunch of idiots.

  3. Crispin Trist says:

    Congratulations King Island!

    You have been spared a life of misery amongst the 600 turbines. An island life from which there would have been no escape.

    Perhaps the island can now promote its remoteness as a place to visit in this crazy world. A place to escape to, not from!

  4. David Mortimer says:

    Does this mean that Hydro Tasmania are going to recompense No TasWind for the legal costs for the court battle that it really didn’t need to have?

    Also, It beggars belief that Hydro Tasmania thought they could convert the wildly swinging wind power to High Voltage DC for connection to the mainland. I believe that even America find the process nigh impossible from off shore installations?

  5. T Halfpenny says:

    Spring carnival is in the air and Senvion’s “pretty boy” was strolling down Collins St in his lunch hour destined for Henry Bucks for his morning suit fitting. He liked to keep up appearances for the Bird Cage.
    Unfortunately for pretty boy things were going a little rough. His much vaunted Ceres project was looking like a 100/1 rank outsider. There was also the little issue of importing wind towers from Korea and China and not Keppel Prince.
    So if one sees pretty boy wondering around the Cage, compliment him on his grooming it might be just the tonic he needs.

  6. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    What wonderful news for King Island, of course it was inevitable because it was a certainty that the cost would be far more than any conceived profitability. It’s already known these things cannot ever meet their installed capacity for the vast majority of time, therefore the inconsistent energy being produced was certain to prove unprofitable.

    The cost of building it and getting the energy to the mainland was huge then of course you have the enormous cost of maintenance.

    I hope the islanders will be able to quickly overcome the conflict caused by this stupid attempt to turn the island into an industrial site that would become a derelict site very very quickly as turbines broke down and were un-economic to repair, replace or remove.

    Before causing community concern companies should do their homework first to see if a project is economically viable, AS WELL as safe in areas of human health and the environment.

    We are seeing more projects dropped because of them not being economically viable, and while the RET uncertainty is used in some cases as being the reason, this is a false reason because this industry always knew there was to be a review of the RET and as such there was always a chance it would be changed or removed.

    They needed to take that into account before deciding to put forward proposals, not just think they could pressure, threat and cajole the Government to pander to their wishes.

  7. Martijn de Koo says:

    Wish we could do that here on Aruba too.. but we have a prime minister that won’t stop until he made aruba 100 procent “green ”
    And yes, he went to school…

  8. william gray says:

    Joy to the world….. couldn’t ask for a better Christmas present. One down -several to go.

  9. clara oswald says:

    Hydro Tasmania also was responsible for delivering Waterloo wind farm which is notoriously problematic for the locals. They later bailed out and left TRUenergy/ Energy Australia/China Light and Power carrying the can.
    At last count, members of 8 households have now left their usual place of residence near Waterloo and are reporting a return to normal sleep patterns when further away,
    Not surprising really – measured post construction levels significantly exceed predicted noise levels.

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