WA’S rapid expansion means the State could run short of power within two years.Western Power intends to go to the market with a power procurement program to feed the new growth by the end of this year.The power procurement process is expected to run along lines similar to those initiated to source private power generators for regional areas.Western Power managing director David Eiszele said WA Government legislation required the utility to cater for new growth.“Collie will service us for the next two to three years,” Mr Eiszele said.“After that we’ll need new generation plants. WA will need an extra 400 megawatts over the next four years.”This means WA will need a new power plant or a number of smaller power plants that can supply the extra demand by the summer of 2005.Mr Eiszele believes WA’s progress will benefit from increased competition in its energy markets.He said it was likely the new cornerstone investor of AlintaGas would look to WA’s electricity market.“The buyers of AlintaGas will want to grow the business strongly. Electricity will be one way to do that,” Mr Eiszele said.The purchasers of AlintaGas, Utilicorp and United Energy, already have big interests in Victoria’s power and gas markets.While Western Power sells gas for cogeneration purposes, it cannot legally sell gas in competition with the newly privatised AlintaGas for two years.“We will look at selling gas against them after the two year period,” Mr Eiszele said.“Our competitive advantage will come from the customer service network we already have in place.“You’ll get one bill – just like you used to.”AlintaGas and Western Power were formerly one entity – the State Energy Commission. They were split in 1995.Mr Eiszele said Western Power had spent last year upgrading its customer service call centre facilities which would allow the utility to operate as a multi-service provider should they decide to enter the gas market.
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