New regime powering forward

AS Stephen van der Mye assumes the Western Power managing director’s mantle at the end of the month, there is plenty on which he still needs to be briefed.

Reports abound of numerous power plays and much uncertainty within the State utility as it prepares for its fast-approaching break-up into four divisions.

But as Dr van der Mye is well aware, Western Power is also positioning itself for a fully competitive electricity market, for which a final design and operating rules are yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, the Government-owned corporation, which owns 60 per cent of WA’s electricity generation capacity, is still in the thick of tendering and power purchase processes for peaking, base-load and regional power supplies.

At the same time it is also constructing one new plant of its own, and deliberating on a second.

Three shortlisted consortium bidders for the provision of up to 260MW of peaking power by 2005, are preparing final proposals ahead of a July deadline.

The new peaking power will come from a gas-fired plant to be built on a site that is still to be determined. The options include north of Perth at Pinjar, or south, at either Kwinana, or Kemerton, near Bunbury.

Western Power acknowledges it will be choosing from a strong field of contenders – Mitsui International Power, an Origin Energy and ANZ Infrastructure Services partnership, Transfield Services and ABN Amro.

Meanwhile 13 bidders are sweating on proposals to supply Western Power with up to 330MW of baseload power from 2007.

With no feedback since expressions of interest were lodged in March and a shortlist not expected before mid-year, some are privately wondering whether invitations to submit indicative bids will eventuate.

However, Western Power general manager of emerging business Peter Oates said assessment of the EOIs was “progressing on schedule”.

Burns and Roe Worley is itself progressing plans to provide Western Power’s Esperance customers from a new gas-fired station, following the signing of two purchase agreements in July last year.

Western Power and the Office of Energy remain in negotiations with Burns and Roe Worley, however, as the preferred bidder for further regional power procurement, this time for Exmouth.

Negotiations are expected to be completed mid-year, a power pur-chase agreement to be in place in the fourth quarter, and a new plant up and running late next year.

Western Power expects to save up to 15 per cent on delivery to six mid-west centres after giving Wesfarmers majority-owned StateWest Power the final go-ahead to provide power from new plants.

By mid-year Western Power must also decide between StateWest Power, Burns and Roe Worley and two other contenders for new power supplies to five West Kimberley towns by 2005.

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