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Western Power ‘not delivering’

WESTERN Power has been accused of standing in the way of electricity retailing deregulation by WA Cons-olidated Power CEO John Cochrane.

WACP was created to take advantage of the dereg-ulation of WA’s electricity market on January 1 that allowed customers using one megawatt of power a year to choose where they bought power.

It is set up as an electricity retailer – onselling excess power from generators at major industrial projects.

Mr Cochrane said his company had been well received but only had access to enough electricity to supply its only customer – CocaCola Amatil.

“We have seven cust-omers that want to use us. However, our access to generators has been severely constrained,” he said.

“The customers together are worth 50 megawatts.

“Western Power’s total industrial load is 900 megawatts so it’s a significant part of their load.

“The people want to make the change but they can’t.”

One of the major cons-traints is the 220 kilovolt line from the South West Interconnected System to Kalgoorlie.

Power can flow from Perth to Kalgoorlie but there are major problems when power is sent back.

Mr Cochrane wants to buy excess power from Trans Alta’s Kalgoorlie power station and transmit it to Perth to satisfy demand from city customers.

“Western Power is not showing a lot of initiative in curing the problem,” he said.

“They have been inclined to wait until someone is prepared to pay to fix the problem. It could be 18 to 24 months before the problem is fixed.”

Fellow electricity retailer Perth Energy claims it has encountered the same problem.

It is acting as a retail agent for Alcoa’s power station but wants to find other power generators. Trans Alta is one of the most likely options but that power is unobtainable.

Western Power acting general manager of transmission Phil Southwell said interim solutions to the problem could be identified by the end of the month.

Mr Southwell said technical limitations had been highlighted since the establishment of independent generators in the Goldfields.

“Local generators have now requested increased system capacity and Western Power is working closely with them to determine the required system enhancements,” he said.

“Detailed engineering studies are under way.”

Mr Cochrane said he had tried to buy electricity from Western Power on several occasions.

“They’ve refused to do business with me,” he said.

In theory Western Power has been broken up into separate business units with its generation arm being separate from its electricity retailing operation.

WA Energy Minister Colin Barnett has foreshadowed the appointment of an independent electricity access regulator and stronger ring fencing of Western Power’s separate operations.

Powering Australia feature page 20

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