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It’s a rough ride for Esperance

It would appear negotiations towards providing the long-term power needs of Esperance and surrounding areas have not proceeded as smoothly as first hoped.

Shire of Esperance president Julie Starcevich said the region needed more affordable power to attract bigger business, but has described the process to procure this on behalf of the community as an “on-going battle” which commenced three years ago.

Councillor Starcevich said progress towards a solution had been delayed twice and the Shire Council needed no further hold-ups.

An expected December 2001 announcement of a power purchase agreement between Western Power and preferred bidder Burns and Roe Worley has not eventuated, with some keen disappointment expressed this week that a potential proposal was not on the agenda at last week’s Western Power board meeting.

Western Power would not comment on a suggestion that two proposals put to the State utility by the Office of Energy, one in early December 2001 and one early this month, were not considered appropriate for presentation by the Western Power chief executive officer to the board. A Western Power spokes-person would only say that all negotiations were still in the hands of the Office of Energy.

A State Government spokes-person said the Government intended to maintain an arm’s length distance from such commercial negotiations.

Office of Energy senior manager John Filippone said an agreement was possible in April, and the Government had a responsibility to ensure all risk associated with a reliable and adequate supply was covered.

But Burns and Roe Worley, which has also won preferred bidder status to supply power to Exmouth, must secure a gas trading arrangement in con-junction with the power purchase agreement. That is, the agreements are interdependent.

And without either in place, the company cannot fire up arrangements to finance the proposed project.

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