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Power suppliers ready for change

AS the industry deregulation approaches, the main players in Western Australia’s gas and electricity markets are quietly increasing staff numbers to lead the companies through the upcoming changes.

Last weekend, Western Power publicly signalled it was preparing to enter the State’s retail gas market by advertising the new position of Gas Market Development Manager.

The appointee will be responsible for evaluating Western Power’s ability to enter the gas market and seeking out opportunities for the corporation to be a preferred supplier of gas into small markets.

The position was not advertised nationally, on the basis that Western Power wants to employ someone with specific experience in the WA market.

A Western Power source said a small group of people within the corporation had been working to understand the opportunities, costs and risks it faced in entering the gas distribution business, and now was the time to bring in additional experience to take that analysis to the next level.

The organisation has not yet made a concrete decision to be involved in gas sales, as it is still to determine whether such a move would be profitable.

But some within Western Power believe this process cannot continue behind closed doors, and the corporation is best served by having a voice in the forums that determine the rules for retail contestability in the gas and electricity markets.

AlintaGas retains control of the gas market until October 2003, at which point Western Power and others will be able to offer competition.

The gas utility itself is preparing to enter the electricity distribution market, and late last year created a new position to manage that task.

Wesfarmers Energy Ltd also has shaped up as an electricity provider by taking a 65 per cent stake in StateWest Power and appointing a Project Manager – Power in late 2001.

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