Power battle at Horizon
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”.