One of the wettest winters on record


Our weather specialists have been busy monitoring and forecasting the interesting weather patterns that have occurred over the Snowy Mountains region to date in 2016.

The dramatic turn of climate conditions from very dry to very wet has eventuated largely as we were forecasting earlier in the year. Conditions have turned from one of the driest summers on record to one of the wettest autumn/winters on record. This has included some significant inflow events such as around 22 July when we saw the average inflows for the Scheme for the month of July occur in one week alone.

For the statisticians, inflows are now tracking at roughly a 9 per cent probability of exceedance, meaning that we would only expect nine in every 100 years to be wetter. With only four months of the water year passed, we have received well over half of our annual inflows.

As well as the constant and careful management of diversions and forced generation that these very wet conditions require within the Scheme, we are also working closely with stakeholders downstream to make sure key information is exchanged and there are no surprises. This includes the water authorities of NSW Department of Primary Industries – Water, Water NSW and the Murray Darling Basin Authority who operate the major storages downstream of us, as well as our local communities who live and work in an around the Snowy Scheme.

There is still a healthy snowpack on the hill so we are planning for continued wet conditions for spring and early summer which will keep our people and assets on their toes and doing what they do best. The outlook into summer is less certain, but with such a wet catchment we are not expecting things to turn dry any time soon!


Experiencing wet conditions


What a difference a couple of months make! Earlier in the year we were preparing for drier conditions off the back of El Nino but, as our Snowy Hydro climate scientists predicted last edition, we are now experiencing decidedly wetter conditions. With only four months of the water year passed, we have already received well over half of our annual inflows and the snowpack hasn’t started to melt yet. Already we have seen some high inflow events in July which affected landholders around the Murray; and NSW water authorities are carefully watching the Murrumbidgee side to manage any water issues that could arise there.

Snowy Hydro is working with local emergency services and property owners to ensure the lines of communication are open and we update people regularly on the conditions we are experiencing on the waterways across our operations. As the snow melts and inflows into the Scheme increase, it’s important local communities and landholders are kept abreast of any major movements of water. We will continue to work with local authorities and communities in the coming months to carefully manage any water events as they arise.

On a pleasing note, Snowy Hydro has ended the 2015/16 financial year in a strong position. This is the first full year that our recent acquisitions – our gas power station in Colongra and diesel assets in South Australia, as well as Lumo Energy and Direct Connect – have contributed to our financial results.

We hit some significant milestones as a business this year – exceeding more than $2 billion in revenue and passing the one million retail customer mark – a position we have sustained and continue to grow. Our retail businesses – Red Energy, Lumo Energy and Direct Connect – are all working together to attract and retain customers, focusing on superior customer service and industry leading customer satisfaction scores. We have more than 1200 staff working in our retail businesses in Melbourne and we are working to bring them all together under one roof by next year.

Our generation business has also had a strong year. Generation levels have increased as market and operational conditions improved. We are focused on improving the performance of our assets across the fleet and are currently working on a major upgrade of one of the units at Murray 1 in Khancoban, meaning more Snowy Hydro workers will be located in and around that region over the coming months.

We would love to grow support for Red Energy in the Snowy Mountains and, as such, we have been sponsoring local events and festivals and we’re once again sponsoring the ski season this Winter. As a local company with such a long and proud history in the Snowy Mountains, we want to ensure that the communities we live and work in can get the benefit of being our customers, with energy backed by the mighty Snowy Scheme. Our field sales teams have been out and about in the Cooma and Tumut regions over the last few months and will continue to encourage households and businesses to get on board with Red.

Shortly we will be conducting our biennial community research so you may receive a phone call asking you to spend some time talking about Snowy Hydro, how we communicate with you and your understanding of our business and its challenges. If you are approached, we would greatly appreciate you spending the time to give us your thoughts. It’s all confidential and anonymous, of course. It will help us to ensure we are doing the right things to keep you informed about our business. In the meantime, stay safe and dry!


Winter is on its way


Winter is almost upon us and that means the Snowy Mountains region is gearing up for the peak tourism season where tens of thousands of visitors come to the region to enjoy the snow, as well as the hospitality and scenery that locals get to enjoy all year round.

Snowy Hydro, through our retail energy company Red Energy, will once again sponsor the ski fields this year so keep your eyes and ears out for our Red Energy signs and sounds on local radio stations at Thredbo, Perisher and Charlottes Pass. As a local company employing hundreds of people in the region, we’re proud to back the Snowy Mountains and get the message out about our 100 per cent Australian owned and operated energy brand – Red Energy – which is backed by the mighty Snowy Hydro.

Red Energy has been a major sponsor of festivals and events across the region throughout the year, including the very successful Back to Cooma Festival over the Easter long weekend and the more recent Festival of the Falling Leaf in Tumut. Our enthusiastic staff are always happy to chat to potential customers about the benefits of switching to Red Energy and we have been working with businesses across the region in the past few months, spruiking the benefits of Red Energy which is an industry leader in customer service.

With the arrival of winter, locals and visitors alike are keen to know all about the predictions for snowfall. Accurately predicting the weather is a tough business. Snowy Hydro is incredibly lucky to have a talented team of climate scientists who work with us to read and interpret climate indicators to give us as in-depth a view as possible about predicted rainfall, snowpack and inflows to the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

But broadly, we are looking to move out of El Niño with a high chance of La Niña meaning the next few months are looking to be wetter than average, but also warmer. This is good news for predicted inflows into the Snowy Scheme and means we will have healthy water levels to sustain higher levels of generation across the Scheme this year and to deliver downstream to town water supplies, the environment and irrigators.

On the generation front, we have just completed major upgrade works at our Tumut 1 Power Station at Cabramurra and will be moving our major works team to Khancoban to start major works on our Murray 1 Power Station. This is good news for the Khancoban community as, at its peak, we can expect around 80 additional staff working in the region with around 40 staff there permanently for the predicted works over at least a six month period. We understand how important it is to invest in and support our local communities to ensure they remain healthy and vibrant for our workforce and their families.

Lastly, an important reminder about safety. At Snowy Hydro, the safety of our employees and the people that live around and interact with the Snowy Scheme, is our highest priority.

We have noticed in recent times an alarming increase in the number of near misses on the roads around the Snowy Mountains. We drill into our staff the importance of safe driving and the majority of our Snowy Hydro car fleet has speed monitors installed which alert us when drivers are driving over the speed limit. Country roads have their own challenges – wildlife including kangaroos and brumbies, snow, rain and visibility challenges, as well as large trucks and caravans.

Please take care on the roads in and around the regions. Adjust your speed to suit the conditions and keep a watch for other drivers who may be doing the wrong thing. Thankfully, none of our near misses has resulted in serious injury to our staff. But you can never be too careful with your life. It’s critically important that everyone goes home in the same shape, or better, each and every day. Take care when you’re out there.