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Post Hazelwood: Snowy Hydro dam now three quarters empty

They’re running our largest Hydro Lake down

The large Hazelwood Coal Units closed a year ago,  so the Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme has been working hard to fill the holes in the unreliable generation that replaced it. And they’ve been collecting tidy profits from earning RET certificates too.

What could possibly go wrong?

This — levels of Lake Eucumbene have fallen to 24%. This is the lowest since 2010. It’s not the lowest ever (so that’s alright then).

The rain will just fill it right up, unless there is an El Nino. Don’t look now… Odds are “above average”.

Who I say, who could have predicted this?!

Graham Lloyd, The Australian

Snowy Hydro’s biggest storage dam has fallen to less than 25 per cent capacity due to poor rains and high electricity generation following the closure of the ­Hazelwood coal power station in Victoria.

Lake Eucumbene is now at its lowest level since 2010 and on its way to a repeat of 2007 when electricity generation had to be stopped in favour of a heavily ­polluting fossil-fuel generator in Victoria.

The Hydro chief said they had been generating more to “take advantage of tight market conditions.” And we all know what that means.

This is tough for fishermen and tourists.

Alan Basford, who has been at Anglers Reach Caravan Park on the shores of Lake Eucumbene for 50 years, said things were becoming desperate.

“We have been very concerned for a long while,” Mr ­Basford told The Australian.He stopped pumping water for the park three months ago and said what usually was a 3km stretch of water out the front of his property was now “just a river”.

The fishing is still good but ­visitors can no longer get to the water. “We haven’t had any rain for a long time but it’s going down like mad because they are generating electricity,” Mr Basford said.

“They are generating all the time and using water like it is going out of style.”

What about that rainfall?

Heavy rains are required to ­replenish the Eucumbene reservoir, but the Bureau of Meteorology winter outlook is for below-average rainfall for NSW, South Australia, northern Vic­toria…

Look at what happened to Q2 prices on the NEM the last time we had a major hydro drought?

See that big bump years ago? That was it. Across all eastern states.

Australian Q2 NEM prices. Graph, Drought, renewables.


We pay $1b a year to genius investigators at the ABC to help us have a national conversation to avoid these blindingly obvious risks. Find that discussion…

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