The power utility assed that the level was the ‘lowest they have ever been at this time of the year’, and added the problem was due to the impact of the ongoing drought.

Historically, the utility met about 90% of its electricity demand from reservoir inflows. However, over the last decade the inflows to the reservoirs have been down by 5%-10% on average, the worst year having been 2006 when it could only meet two-thirds of demand due to the drought.

Hydro Tasmania is drawing upon electricity imports via the Basslink connector, which can supply up to a quarter of the Tasmania’s demand – and still be operated commercially, it added. As a consequence, the utility has been able to optimise the drawdown of water levels, which would be lower if the link was not built.

Basslink came into operation in April 2006, Tasmania having officially joined Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) a year earlier.

Due to the ongoing poor rainfall, the utility imported 201.8GWh in January compared to only 4.6GWh of export. Last year, 1902GWh was imported versus 618GWh was exported.