Saturday, 15 September 2018 09:50

Basslink issues notice to Hydro Tasmania over cable failure

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Basslink, the company that manages the undersea data and power cable that links Tasmania to the Australian mainland, has issued a notice of dispute to Hydro Tasmania seeking to recover money that it claims it is owed for the failure of the Basslink interconnector in December 2015.

The long-running dispute between Basslink and the Tasmanian Government — Hydro Tasmania is a subsidiary of the government — went to arbitration in April after the government notified the company of the same.

In a statement issued on Friday, Basslink said it had always maintained that the six-month cable failure was a force majeure event — an act of God — under the Basslink Services Agreement.

"Despite the independent investigation that was undertaken by independent experts appointed by Basslink, Cable Consulting International, which concluded that the cause of the incident was 'unknown', Hydro Tasmania did not accept the incident was a force majeure event and withheld, amongst others, facility fees on the basis there was no force majeure event," the Basslink statement said.

"By issuing the notice of dispute, Basslink seeks to recover the withheld monies from Hydro Tasmania."

The dispute centres around a Basslink outage that occurred in December 2015 and was not fixed for six months. In March, the government formally lodged a notice of dispute, claiming damages of $122 million for the outage.

Charges have been flung back and forth over the incident. On 20 December 2017, Hydro Tasmania said it had identified the cause of the Basslink failure and cited two experts who said it was because Basslink had exceeded its design limit.

But two days later, Basslink chief executive Malcolm Eccles dismissed the findings, saying that the expert reports cited as proof merely outlined one possible cause of the outage.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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