The power utility’s reservoir storage is less than 19% full. For some time now, the drought has so diminished hydropower output that it has been a net importer of electricity via the Basslink connector from the Australian mainland.

Over the next 12 years, Hydro Tasmania plans to develop an additional 1,000 GWh/year of output capability from its existing system, which has a potential output of 9,000GWh/year. More than Aus$400M (US$379M) is proposed to be invested on the various projects.

The extra output initiative will include enhancement projects such as catchment diversions, upgrades of existing diversions, raising existing storages and building mini-hydro schemes.

In addition, Hydro Tasmania said the initiative will include new power station development or redevelopment of existing plants.

The utility, at the same time, aims to be working to become Australia’s first carbon neutral energy generator. In practice, this means offsetting or removing the 642,000 tonnes/year of carbon dioxide it emitted in the last financial year, and do so by 2012.

A couple of months ago the utility started its annual cloud seeding season over much of its territory. Before the start of the season, the utility’s storage levels were just over 18% full, or approximately the same as at present. The consequence imports via Basslink equate to more than half of the energy equivalent of this total storage volume. The cloud seeding continues to November.