The Western Australian Government is introducing new rules governing access to the Pilbara’s electricity system to ensure all users are protected, while also encouraging private investment in the expansion of the network.
The new laws follow the release of a report developed by the Pilbara Electricity Infrastructure Project committee, chaired by energy expert Lyndon Rowe, which recommended major changes to the North West Interconnected System (NWIS).
The report recommends the establishment of:
- Separate and divested ownership of the NWIS electricity network assets currently owned by Horizon Power
- A light-handed regulatory regime to govern NWIS access, providing protections to users of the network while also encouraging investments in the expansion of the network
- An independent NWIS system operator to improve the efficiency of system operation.
Western Australian Minister for Energy, Mike Nahan, said the report found the best opportunity for development of the electricity network in the NWIS was through divestment of state ownership in the network assets.
“A privately owned entity would be commercially motivated and agile to provide network connection for mining and energy sector customers as an attractive alternative to stand-alone generation assets,” Mr Nahan said.
Western Australian Minister for Regional Development, Terry Redman, said providing network access to third party power suppliers had the potential to provide material benefits to many commercial and industrial electricity customers in the Pilbara, through access to lower electricity prices.
“This will also provide a much-needed boost to economic development in the region,” Mr Redman said.
The report also found the other two reforms were necessary to support the development of a more dynamic electricity sector in the Pilbara.
“Further investigation and consultation will occur with industry regarding a fit-for-purpose access regime for the NWIS and independent system operator,” Mr Nahan said.
“Both reforms will be progressed regardless of the ultimate decision on the sale of Horizon Power’s Pilbara network assets.”