Energy Minister Mike Nahan has today outlined the State Government's reform program for the electricity industry in response to recommendations made in an options paper by a review committee.
Dr Nahan said the Liberal National Government would begin taking the necessary steps to limit future electricity price increases for households and businesses, and reduce the requirement for subsidy of the industry that is forecast to cost the State more than $500 million in 2014-15.
One of the main reforms will be introducing choice of electricity retailers for household and small business customers.
"The benefits of competition between energy retailers are already evident in gas services where Alinta and Kleenheat compete vigorously for household and small business customers with attractive price offers," the Minister said.
"Subject to adequate consumer protection mechanisms being established, households and small businesses should have the same opportunity for choice and better prices in their purchase of electricity services. It is also expected that Synergy will be free to retail gas to small business and residential consumers once full retail contestability is introduced."
The Government will also transfer regulation of the Western Power electricity network to the Australian Energy Regulator, which regulates electricity networks in all other Australian States and Territories. This will provide the benchmarks and incentives for Western Power to meet national best practice standards in operations, efficiency and cost.
"It will also increase the transparency of Western Power's technical rules and rule change processes, and include Western Australia in the national discussion around how to respond to the opportunities and other impacts of technological change in the sector," Dr Nahan said.
Reforms will also be developed to increase transparency and efficiency in WA's wholesale electricity market.
The Government will not split the State-owned electricity business Synergy and Western Australia will not join the national electricity market.
"There are opportunities for large improvements in the performance of the Synergy business and the local WA electricity market that must be achieved," the Minister said.
"This is our focus, rather than further structural changes to, or sale of, the State's electricity corporations."
Small business and residential customers to have choice in electricity and gas
Economic regulation of Western Power will move to the national framework
Aiming for more innovation in metering, adaptation to other technologies and greater operational efficiency
Minister's office - 6552 5700