WA utility to be broken up, sell off not on horizon

In a move that is to have important ramifications for the future development of the Western Australian energy market, electricity utility Western Power is expected to be broken-up in a decision to be announced today by the state government.

However, with Geoff Gallop opposed to any sell-off, the radical overhaul is not a precursor to full or part privatisation of the utility.

A report commissioned by the government from former oil industry executive, John Hyslop, recommended wide-ranging changes to Western Power that would split it into three separate organisations having responsibility for generation, transmission and distribution/marketing.

The Hyslop report, which had 79 recommendations, says electricity reform will deliver cuts in electricity prices and help attract new investment, promote economic growth and create new jobs.

The Gallop Government went to last year's election on a platform of electricity reform saying it was important because WA energy prices - amongst the highest in Australia - were a major disincentive to economic development and jobs growth.

"The choice we must make is whether we embrace a genuinely competitive, dynamic, robust electricity system, or whether we settle for an electricity market that disadvantages consumers and strangles investment and job creation," WA's deputy premier and energy minister Eric Ripper said.