Energy Minister Colin Barnett today officially opened Western Australia's largest infrastructure project undertaken in the State this decade - the Collie Power Station.
Built for Western Power, the 300 megawatt (MW) power station is the most modern coal-fired power station built in Australia to date, and adds approximately 10 per cent extra generating capacity to the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).
The SWIS provides power to 734,000 residential and business customers in Western Australia, from the Perth metropolitan area, north to Kalbarri, south to Hopetoun and east to Kalgoorlie.
Mr Barnett said the opening of Collie Power Station brought to a close the 10-year development history of the project. With the opening of the station a new era in efficient power generation for the State was about to begin.
"Collie Power Station is a milestone project for Western Australia's energy sector and is now Western Power's most efficient power station," Mr Barnett said.
"Its generation costs are 30 per cent less than other existing coal-fired power stations in Collie and it produces the cheapest electricity in the State."
Mr Barnett said the project was first mooted in 1989 but experienced four years of delay and indecision.
"On coming to Government in February 1993, the issue become a major focus for myself as Energy Minister and the Coalition," he said.
"The situation was reassessed by the Government and by August that year, a range of complex issues had been resolved and a final decision to proceed was made, culminating in the Government sealing a $575 million turnkey contract with the Asea Brown Boveri-Itochu Corporation consortium in 1994 for construction.
"During the station's three year development, the on-site workforce peaked at more than 600 people, and around 60 per cent of the services and materials for the project were sourced in Australia, mostly from Western Australia.
"A major electrical fire caused a four-month delay and revised the completion timetable.
"The project is now complete and has been handed over by the consortium to Western Power on-budget and on time according to the revised schedule."
The power station will be operated for Western Power by Pacific Western. This is the first time Western Power has outsourced a coal-fired plant operation.
Western Power Managing Director David Eiszele said infrastructure, capitalised interest and escalation (labour and materials and contract variations) took the total cost of establishing the power station on a greenfields site to $800 million.
He said the power station, designed with the necessary infrastructure to ultimately include a second 300MW unit, positioned the company to meet demand for electricity into the new millennium.
"With annual power demand forecast to continue to rise at the rate of between three per cent and four per cent, and less use being made of older power stations, more generating plant will be needed in about four years.
"Our challenge is to continue the focus on cost reduction while ensuring a reliable electricity supply that provides value for money in the future.
"Since deregulation in 1995, there has been more than 1000MW of private gas powered generation installed in WA.
"The process for procuring power plant in the future is under consideration and the Government and Western Power will welcome further private generation, as part of this process, in the South West Interconnected System".
Media contact: Justine Whittome, Minister's office, (08) 9222 9699
Peter Winner, Western Power, (08) 9325 4597