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Perth Energy gas push

PERTH Energy is seeking a trading licence to compete against industry heavyweight Alinta for the supply of gas to the state's residential market.

Perth Energy managing director Ky Cao said a successful Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) application would provide an important growth leg for the company and increase competition in the retail sector.

"It's a very tough process. It could take six to 12 months," Mr Cao said.

"You need to prove financially and commercially that you can provide to customers."

The trading licence would give the eight-year-old company the ability to sell gas to households and small businesses. It already holds a wholesale licence and is building an open-cycle gas turbine power plant in Kwinana, to be commissioned in winter 2010.

The power station was last year granted a 30-year licence from the ERA.

In its application, Perth Energy applied for the right to trade across the state. The publicly listed Alinta is the dominant gas retailer in WA.

Mr Cao said it was the company's near-term intention to target businesses and longer-term ambition to compete in the retail market.

Perth Energy has a presence in the retail electricity market through subsidiary Western Energy, which supplies electricity to small-use customers.

Government-owned Synergy is the dominant electricity retailer in the state, while Alinta has diversified its gas-focused business to become Synergy's major competitor.

Perth Energy, which has traditionally bought energy from landfill gas generators in the South West, last year negotiated a wholesale deal to buy $30 million of energy per year from Verve Energy.

Perth Energy representatives have previously said the company was aiming for about 10 per cent of the retail electricity market by about 2013.

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