Sparks fly over power deregulation anomaly

SOME companies using just under one megawatt of electricity per annum are crying foul at the latest power deregulation.

Since 1 January, 118 customers using between 1MW and 5MW of electricity have been allowed to buy power from their supplier of choice.

WA Consolidated Power has already emerged as a competitor to Western Power in that market.

While not a power producer itself, WACP intends to buy power from private power producers and onsell it to consumers in the one megawatt market.

This is expected to reduce the costs of businesses such as mining companies and hospitals which can

currently have annual electricity bills of around $800,000.

However, Chamber of Commerce and Industry manager industry and resources Bill Sashegyi said his office had received complaints from several businesses that missed out on the deregulation.

Mr Sashegyi said, in some cases, businesses benefiting from the new tranche of deregulations were receiving discounts of up to 20 per cent.

Those using less than 1MW per year were not receiving any discounts, which placed them at a competitive disadvantage.

The structure of WA electricity deregulation means Western Power remains a monopoly supplier to those using less than 1MW of electricity a year.

“We need to have another tranche of deregulation,” Mr Sashegyi said.

He said those companies competing for the 1MW to 5MW market could afford to offer big discounts to their customers because there was no further deregulation on the horizon.

A spokeswoman for Energy Minister Colin Barnett said there had been no announcements of further deregulation in the electricity sector.

WA’s gas industry also underwent a stage of deregulation on 1 January.

Consumers using 100 terajoules of gas or more a year can now choose to buy their gas from suppliers other than AlintaGas.

There is a schedule in place for the full deregulation of the WA’s gas industry with total deregulation due on 1 July 2002.

Mr Sashegyi said those companies competing for the share of the 100TJ plus gas market would be unlikely to offer discounts of the magnitude seen in the electricity market.

“They will be less likely to offer big discounts because in a couple more years the rest of the market will be opened up to them,” he said.

“Those new customers would then want the same discounts.

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