WA this week 10 years ago - WA gassed up on choice

THE gas supply industry in Western Australia raised concerns about accelerated deregulation of the gas market, following an about turn by state cabinet to reduce the consumption threshold, thereby allowing more customers to choose their gas supplier. A two-stage process would allow customers consuming at least 250 terajoules a year at a single site from January 1 1998 to choose their gas supplier for that site, falling to a limit of 100tj a year from January 1 2000. The government had previously announced a plan of deregulation for customers consuming less than 500tj a year from January 1997. As a result of the move, the franchise of government-owned gas utility, AlintaGas, was expected to be limited to domestic and small business customers consuming less than 100tj a year at one site from 2000. WA energy minister Colin Barnett said the next two steps in the gas industry deregulation would allow 29 of AlintaGas’ major customers through its distribution system and a further six customers through its transmission system to negotiate contracts directly with their gas supplier of choice. At the time, the supplier was $1.16 billion in debt, mainly caused by the Dampier to Bunbury natural gas transmission pipeline and through financing an increasing gas inventory associated with its North West Shelf contract.

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