Taking charge of the market

ENERGY Minister Eric Ripper, Western Power chief David Eiszele, AlintaGas managing director Bob Browning and Electricity Reform Task Force chairman John Hyslop hold the future of WA’s electricity market in their hands.

The Gallop Government made a pre-election promise to change WA’s electricity market, and Mr Ripper has stuck to his guns regarding the break-up of Western Power.

He has said on many occasions that the Government would prefer a State-owned utility that is broken into separate retail, generation and network arms, competing with private sector generators and retailers.

Western Power managing director David Eiszele, ranked as the highest-paid Government executive in the WA Business News Book of Lists, is adamant that WA’s power needs are best served by Western Power remaining whole.

Indeed, he would like to see Western Power privatised, just as its one-time State Energy Commission stable mate AlintaGas was.

Mr Eiszele wants to enter the gas market once full deregulation is allowed next year.

AlintaGas managing director Bob Browning, on the other hand, is keen to make a tilt at WA’s electricity market. It has the necessary infrastructure to play in the retail side and is now gearing up to be a generator as well.

The gas utility has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Alcoa to jointly develop up to four 120 megawatt gas-fired co-generation plants at its alumina refineries. If the plan gets approval, the first generation plant could be operating by 2004.

Mr Hyslop is likely to be the one to have the most immediate impact on WA’s electricity market.

His recommendations on how the electricity market should be structured could make or break the market.

The former Brown & Root Energy Services executive director and current Metrixx and Spencer Coatings chairman has already released an interim report backing the vertical disaggregation of Western Power.

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