Thousands of Western Australian small businesses will receive a real reduction in the price they pay for electricity from today.
Fuel and Energy Minister Geoff Gallop said today that for the first time in 30 years, many businesses would receive an electricity bill which was actually lower than their previous bill.
"A five per cent cut in general supply tariffs and a further reduction in time-of-use tariffs will mean direct cost savings to business of $12 million a year," Dr Gallop said.
"As a result of better work practices and management restructuring in SECWA and the coal industry, more than 80,000 Western Australian small businesses - or more than 90 per cent of businesses in this State - will be better off.
"Many of SECWA's medium to large customers have also made cost savings of 5 to 15 per cent by moving to time-of-use tariffs. Large customers have been able to save up to 25 per cent in this way.
"For example, SECWA has on its books a small supermarket that after changing to time-of-use tariffs is saving $6,000 a year on electricity costs; a baker who is saving $3,000 a year; and a food processor who is saving $4,600.
"There are also examples of big electricity customers who are making significant savings through new time-based demand tariffs.
"For example, a large suburban shopping centre which switched to the new tariff structure is making an annual saving on electricity of $150,000; a building materials manufacturer is saving $100,000; and a manufacturer of communications equipment is saving about $34,000.
"These are real SECWA customers. They are real businesses employing real people and the cost savings in the current economic climate are significant."
Dr Gallop said the latest tariff cuts were announced in the State Budget earlier this year, and were another major step towards the Government's overall aim of reducing energy tariffs by at least 25 per cent by the end of the decade.
"The Government acknowledges there is still a long way to go, but last year's two per cent increase and no tariff increase at all this year means that for the first time the gap in tariff charges between Western Australia and the Eastern States is being closed," he said.
Dr Gallop said that since 1984 energy prices under the Labor Government had been held within the inflation rate.
By contrast, the Liberal Government was not able to keep electricity prices below the rampant inflation rate which was characteristic of its last years in power in the early 1980s.