Gas supplier choice

WESTERN Power looks likely to be one of the first cabs off the rank to take advantage of new legislation that will soon allow Western Australia’s 430,000 householders and small business gas users to choose their gas supplier.

Full retail contestability will start from May next year.

On October 17 WA’s main power utility will start targeting customers that use more than one terajoule of gas a day.

Western Power general manager retail John Lillywhite said that equated to about 34 kilowatts of electricity – the amount a typical small business would use.

The electricity market to that level of consumption has been contestable since January.

However, the power utility is not allowed to start selling to household gas users until either 2007 or 2008.

Mr Lillywhite said Western Power had access to gas to meet the demands of those customers prepared to make the switch to the cheaper service Western Power would provide.

“Western Power is offering a cheaper alternative for gas customers to AlintaGas, which has raised its tariffs every year for the past three years,” he said.

Mr Lillywhite said Western Power had already succeeded in attracting new gas customers.

Energy Minister Eric Ripper said the Government’s legislation effectively ended the AlintaGas monopoly.

“It will introduce more competition into the gas market,” he said.

“The privatisation of AlintaGas by the previous government simply transferred a public monopoly into private hands with a captive market.

“The deregulation of the gas market, however, puts power into the hands of the consumers who can take their business where they get the best service and value for money.

“It is the Government’s view that competition will put downward pressure on prices, maximise efficiency and improve service delivery.”

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