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Power offers Alinta a growth option

WHILE nobody is sure exactly what the privatised AlintaGas will do, cornerstone investor the Utilicorp United-United Energy consortium is sure to act quickly to grow the utility’s market.

One of the most obvious options is to start selling electricity.

Both Utilicorp United and United Energy have holdings in the Victorian electricity market.

AlintaGas also has the customer service infrastructure to handle electricity billings.

The WA electricity market has been opened up allowing customers using more than one megawatt per year to choose their supplier of choice.

The next tranche of deregulation, expected on July 1, will open that market up further to customers using an average 230 kilowatts per year.

AlintaGas was created in 1995 when the old State Energy Commission was broken up.

The SEC was responsible for gas and electricity supply to WA customers.

The break-up also created Western Power.

AlintaGas management cannot outline their plans for growing the utility’s business until after its public float on October 17.

Investor demand for Alinta stock is high, with the initial offering closing early.

The utility’s core business of gas distribution is protected for two years after the float.

Western Power managing director David Eiszele said he was expecting AlintaGas to make a move into WA’s electricity market.

“We will look at selling gas against them after the two year period,” he said.

Western Power already sells gas for cogeneration purposes.

“Our competitive advantage will come from the customer service network we already have in place,” Mr Eiszele said.

Western Power appears to have an advantage. By July 1, 2002 there will be full deregulation of the WA gas market.

There is no timetable for the full deregulation of WA’s electricity market.

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