Eric Ripper

Eric Ripper

Deputy Premier; Treasurer; Minister for State Development

    Max factor lacks foundation

    10/01/2005 10:00 PM

    The State Government has accused the Opposition of failing to give credit where it was due by attacking Western Power’s planning for summer power demand now and into the future.

    Energy Minister Eric Ripper said the Government and Western Power had put in place a long-term plan to manage growing power demands on the South-West electricity grid, stretching from Albany to Kalbarri and east to Kalgoorlie.

    Mr Ripper said Shadow Energy Minister Max Trenorden was outraged by the power planning because he wanted blackouts for reasons of political self-interest.

    “Western Australians do not want a repeat of last year’s circumstances and Western Power is working to deliver reliable power supplies. Rather than putting the public interest first, the Opposition is begging for blackouts,” he said.

    Mr Ripper said Mr Trenorden had made a string of false and unsubstantiated allegations about the details of Western Power’s peak demand provisions.

    “Contrary to Mr Trenorden’s claims about Western Power being focused on the short term, most of the measures put in place for this summer will provide useful back-up during peak times for many years into the future,” the Minister said.

    “We have a more robust and flexible power system as a result of the sensible, long term measures put in place.

    “For instance, the upgrade of the transmission line between the privately owned Parkeston power station and the State’s main electricity grid is a permanent improvement to the system.

    “Further, the Government has been planning for the future. We built and opened a new power station at Cockburn in 2003 and we have commissioned three more power stations for coming years, including the Kemerton peaking plant due to open later this year.

    “We are also encouraging private power stations and wind farms - two of which will open this year.”

    Mr Ripper said the Government had also worked to resolve the biggest energy security issue facing the State - the botched sale by the previous Government of the Dampier to Bunbury natural gas pipeline.

    “We have assisted the sale and expansion of the gas pipeline so it can meet the gas supply needs of the State for the next two decades. If that is not long term planning, I do not know what is,” he said.

    The Opposition complaints about the use of liquid fuel to back up the system were hypocritical.

    “Liquid fuel is an important part of the power system and always has been,” he said.

    “Western Power expects to use 40,000 tonnes of liquid fuel this year, but only about one third over summer. The cost - for summer - will be about $10million, out of a total annual fuel bill of around $400 million.”

    Mr Ripper also rejected claims that the Government had frozen essential maintenance on the electricity network.

    “Wrong again. In each of the last two years the Government has invested more in upgrading the electricity network than at any time over the last decade. In fact, we are spending more than $1.8billion over the next four years,” the Minister said.

    “The Gallop Government is replacing wooden power poles in rural areas at more than twice the rate of the Court Government, and we have already installed more than 120 new transformers in the metropolitan area this year - when around 20 a year is the norm.”

    Mr Ripper said the National Party was embarrassed by its inaction when last in Government.

    “The Nationals just sat back and watched while Mr Barnett privatised $3.6billion in energy assets but did not reinvest one dollar in upgrading the electricity network,” he said.

    “I agree with Max Trenorden on one thing - his assessment of the performance of the previous Government.”
        “It was Mr Barnett who opposed spending money on upgrading electricity infrastructure in country WA…as Minister he refused to tell Western Power to upgrade its systems and that refusal is still being felt throughout country WA.”
          Max Trenorden, media statement, 13 November 2001
      Minister's office: 9222 8788