Power battle at Hori­zon

Pilbara News - - News - Daniel Mercer

An ex­as­per­ated Alinta En­ergy says Sta­te­owned power util­ity Hori­zon Power is “fight­ing tooth and nail” to pre­vent com­pe­ti­tion in the Pil­bara — at a cost to con­sumers.

Alinta chief ex­ec­u­tive Jeff Dimery said the Syd­ney-based com­pany had spent the past three years try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate a deal with Hori­zon for ac­cess to each other’s poles-and­wires net­works but talks had reached a stale­mate.

Mr Dimery ex­pressed frus­tra­tion at the lack of a breakthrough, re­veal­ing Alinta had se­cured about 10 per cent of the mar­ket across the North West promis­ing dis­counts of “around 10 per cent”.

He said the ab­sence of a deal was not put­ting those dis­counts in jeop­ardy.

“We have been push­ing for con­testa­bil­ity in the Pil­bara for large cus­tomers now for the past three years,” Mr Dimery said. “And the mar­ket hasn’t been opened up to com­pe­ti­tion de­spite the fact that a large per­cent­age of the Pil­bara mar­ket would ben­e­fit from com­pe­ti­tion through lower pric­ing.

“Al­most 10 per cent of the mar­ket has al­ready signed with us in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the mar­ket be­ing opened up and that the av­er­age dis­count of­fered to those cus­tomers is at or around 10 plus per cent per an­num. But Hori­zon are fight­ing tooth and nail not to let us in there.”

The comments from the Alinta chief are the lat­est in a tit-for-tat battle be­tween the power providers over ac­cess and mar­ket share in the Pil­bara — a key growth prospect for the pri­vate player.

Alinta ini­tially sought ac­cess to Hori­zon’s net­work in 2014 — prompt­ing a re­tal­ia­tory bid by Hori­zon — be­fore a truce was called when thenen­ergy min­is­ter Mike Na­han launched a broader in­quiry into the North West elec­tric­ity sys­tem.

The two lodged com­pet­ing bids to sup­ply power to Gina Rine­hart’s Roy Hill port op­er­a­tions in Port Hed­land — a con­tract Hori­zon ul­ti­mately won late last year. A trans­mis­sion line be­tween the port and Hori­zon’s $138 mil­lion power plant in Port Hed­land is be­ing built by Canada’s Tran­sAlta En­ergy.

A Hori­zon spokes­woman would not be drawn on Alinta’s barbs, but said the com­pany wel­comed Pil­bara com­pe­ti­tion and “to fa­cil­i­tate this, Hori­zon Power is cur­rently ne­go­ti­at­ing with Alinta to pro­vide ac­cess to the Hori­zon Power net­work”.

Alinta claimed Hori­zon was fight­ing to pre­vent com­pe­ti­tion in the Pil­bara, at a cost to con­sumers. Pic­ture: WA News

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