SYDNEY, March 16 The Australian government will
spend up to A$2 billion ($1.54 billion) to expand the output of
a hydroelectric power scheme by up to 50 percent to help solve a
power crisis, the government said on Thursday.
Australia is on track to become the world's largest exporter
of liquified natural gas (LNG), yet its energy market operator
has warned of a domestic gas crunch from 2019 that could trigger
industry supply cuts and broad power outages.
The expansion of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric scheme
could power the equivalent of 500,000 homes and meet demand in
peak periods across the eastern states, Energy Minister Josh
Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Thursday.
"The cost will run into the billions of dollars but the
Prime Minister has made very clear that we will make all steps
necessary to ensure energy security," Frydenberg said.
South Australia suffered a state-wide blackout last
September during a storm left homes and businesses in the dark
for up to eight hours and paralysed some industries for up to
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is due to visit Snowy Hydro
on Thursday morning, his office said.
($1 = 1.2982 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Jamie Freed)