Fuel and Energy Minister Geoff Gallop told Parliament today that there were encouraging trends in SECWA's performance.
He said recent research by Swan Consultants for the Business Council of Australia had been used to indicate that SECWA's industrial tariffs were higher than 50 per cent of overseas electricity producers.
"It would be stating the obvious to argue that the research shows that SECWA's tariffs are also lower than the other half of its overseas counterparts," Dr Gallop said.
"In fact, when locations that rely on hydro energy are removed from the analysis, SECWA's residential, commercial and industrial tariffs are in the top three.
"It is also important to understand that the comparisons made by Swan Consultants refer to industrial prices available to small consumers.
"A recent Bureau of Industry Economics report provided a comparison for consumers that have a demand of 10 megawatts and a load factor of 80 per cent. SECWA had lower prices than 65 per cent of producers compared for such a load."
Dr Gallop said SECWA had:
· doubled its productivity since 1986;
· not increased its tariffs for the next financial year, and that would probably also be the case in 1993. Its two per cent rise in 1991-92 was Australia's lowest;
· boosted its internal funding of capital expenditure to 47 per cent and expected it to rise to more than 80 per cent for 1992. As a result, no new borrowings would be necessary for 1993;
· reduced interest payments from 40 per cent of total expenditure to 25 per cent in 1992 due to the combined effects of lower market interest rates and prudent debt management;
· achieved an 11.6 per cent improvement in power station availability in the past five years for a total saving of $290 million;
· reduced its workforce by more than 10 per cent in the past 12 months.
"Professor Swan's paper, `Recent Productivity Performance of State Electricity Systems', shows that SECWA has been Australia's leading power utility in total factor productivity since 1983-84," Dr Gallop said.
"The Government is committed to reducing average tariffs by at least 25 per cent in real terms in this decade.
"Indeed, SECWA's commercial tariffs have been reduced by more than 11 per cent in real terms over the past four years and this trend will continue.
"The Carnegie review will recommend further ways to improve SECWA's competitive position."