Power re­forms for Pil­bara

The Australian Energy Review - - NEWS - Cameron Drum­mond

REG­U­LA­TORY re­forms to the Pil­bara’s elec­tric­ity sys­tem an­nounced by the WA State Gov­ern­ment will al­low res­i­dents and busi­nesses in the re­gion to soon choose their elec­tric­ity provider.

Third-party elec­tric­ity providers will be given ac­cess to Hori­zon Power’s North West In­ter­con­nected Sys­tem, un­der a fair and light-handed reg­u­la­tory frame­work.

The Pub­lic Util­i­ties Of­fice has been asked to be­gin work on the de­sign of the new frame­work and associated ar­range­ments, with a man­date to fi­nalise de­tails by early 2018.

The Mcgowan gov­ern­ment said en­gage­ment with in­dus­try and other stake­hold­ers would be cru­cial in de­vel­op­ing a fit for pur­pose reg­u­la­tory frame­work that can de­liver bet­ter out­comes for elec­tric­ity con­sumers in the Pil­bara re­gion and help drive fur­ther re­gional devel­op­ment.

WA En­ergy min­is­ter Ben Wy­att said he ex­pected to be in a po­si­tion to take a de­tailed re­form pro­posal and im­ple­men­ta­tion plan to cab­i­net by March 2018.

“I look for­ward to en­gag­ing with in­dus­try and other stake­hold­ers to de­sign and im­ple­ment an ef­fec­tive reg­u­la­tory regime for the North West In­ter­con­nected Sys­tem in the Pil­bara,” Mr Wy­att said.

Pil­bara MLA Kevin Michel also wel­comed the move.

“Elec­tric­ity con­sumers in this re­gion will be the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­cia­ries from the ad­di­tional con­sumer choice that this re­form will in­tro­duce,” Mr Michel said.

Alinta En­ergy also sup­ported an open ac­cess sys­tem. In 2014, it ap­plied for ac­cess to the net­work, but with­drew its sub­mis­sion await­ing a ne­go­ti­ated out­come with Hori­zon.

Alinta En­ergy man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Jeff Dimery said the com­pany had recog­nised the ben­e­fits of open ac­cess for Pil­bara cus­tomers for some time.

“Ev­ery day that cus­tomers in the Pil­bara are wait­ing for this re­form, is an­other day that they are miss­ing out on the ben­e­fits of dis­counted elec­tric­ity of­fers,” Mr Dimery said.

“Alinta En­ergy has signed up a num­ber of cus­tomers in the Pil­bara in an­tic­i­pa­tion of open ac­cess and these cus­tomers con­tinue to wait to take ad­van­tage of the sav­ings avail­able in a com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment.”

While Alinta En­ergy said it was sup­port­ive of a Gov­ern­ment-led process to en­sure open-ac­cess, the com­pany had also submitted an ap­pli­ca­tion to the State Gov­ern­ment seek­ing cov­er­age of Hori­zon Power’s Pil­bara net­work.

“We look for­ward to work­ing with the Gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment an ap­pro­pri­ate ac­cess regime as soon as pos­si­ble en­abling us to de­liver ben­e­fits to cus­tomers in the Pil­bara,” Mr Dimery said.

Im­age: Alinta En­ergy.

Alinta En­ergy’s new­man power sta­tion.

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