SECWA will pay ten per cent more for electricity produced from wind and solar energy than that produced from fossil fuels.
Fuel and Energy Minister Geoff Gallop announced the move today and said it would complement SECWA's co-generation policy to purchase surplus power from industry.
"SECWA wants to foster and tap into the increasing community interest in the private generation of environmentally friendly renewable energy sources such as wind and solar," Dr Gallop said.
"The policy is one of a number of initiatives implemented or planned by SECWA to conserve our fossil fuel resources and further improve the environmental performance of its business.
"From SECWA's point of view, this could augur well for SECWA's future generation equipment purchases."
The Minister said SECWA would pay between 11.89 cents a unit at summer and winter peak periods for power from renewable energy in areas within the South-West interconnected grid system. During off-peak periods the purchase price was 3.3 cents per unit. Minor producers (up to 50 kilowatts) would receive a flat rate of 4.07 cents.
In isolated systems, the buy-back tariffs ranged from 18c to 10c a unit, depending on the location and size of the community served by the local diesel power station. At Carnarvon, the price was 6.5c, as this power station was no longer dependent on expensive diesel fuel.
Connection to SECWA's system would only be approved if the system's operation, safety and security were not compromised. SECWA would arrange contracts with independent producers who would be required to install a meter to record the out-flow of energy.
"The renewable energy purchase scheme should be attractive in remote areas outside the interconnected grid where communities have their own power station and the cost of generating electricity is high," Dr Gallop said.
"The offer should encourage people in these areas who want to be energy self-sufficient to invest in renewable energy systems. These 'minor producers' will be able to plan to offset their costs by selling surplus power to SECWA.
"Renewable energy sources that could be harnessed include wind, solar, thermal, photovoltaic, hydro, wave and tidal power."