Last week Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett announced that the WA government is close to making a decision on whether to sell all or just part of Western Power and expects a final decision in a matter of weeks. The announcement came Tuesday outside Parliament House and drew a fair number of boos and jeers from the union protesters gathered in anticipation of the news.
What would the sale of Western Power mean for WA customers?
While the actual impact of Western Power changing hands remains to be seen, Barnett responded to concerns regarding higher prices by assuring the public that national regulation would keep the utility’s costs in check.
Barnett also promised voters that “Australian ownership would be ensured,” most likely through “investment by superannuation funds.” According to WA Today, Barnett went on to explain that if Western Power is “sold in part, taxpayers would retain some dividends, but if it were to remain wholly government owned, they would have to fund future infrastructure builds.”
The price tag
According to a recent report by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA, a full sale could generate between $12 billion and $16 billion. Barnett said approximately $8 billion would be used to “retire state debt, with the remainder going towards new capital works.”
Recent ReachTel polls found that an overwhelming majority of respondents in the “safe Liberal- held seats of Riverton and Wanneroo” were opposed to the planned sale.
While Barnett acknowledged that the move carries some political risk – especially heading into the March state election – he told WA Today that he believes it is “the right thing for Western Australia.”
This story is developing. Watch the Bulk Energy blog for more news and updates on this and other important energy topics worldwide.