New direction for Western Australia

The Western Australian Government released a strategic energy report providing direction for a long term energy vision in November.

The Strategic Energy Initiative 2030 report will address key areas of security and reliability, a cleaner energy future, infrastructure, energy supply and demand, regional and remote energy, and markets and regulation, according to the State Government.

Western Australian Energy Minister, Peter Collier said the report would set out clear goals to provide guidance for policy makers and investors, while maintaining flexibility for the state to adapt quickly to take advantage of new opportunities and address emerging issues.

“Securing the energy future for WA is a priority of the State Government,” Minister Collier said.

Minister Collier said there was no clear energy direction for WA’s energy sector when he came into office last year.

“As Minister for Energy, I will lead the development of the Strategic Energy Initiative, which will incorporate the knowledge and experience of energy experts from government agencies, industry and the community at large,” he said.

“This will include delivering a cleaner energy future through the development of renewable energy supplies, while meeting our commitment to the national target of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020.”

“This is a significant increase in the commitment to renewable energy when compared to the 15 per cent target by the previous Labor government over the same timeframe.”

Western Power spokesperson Marisa Chapman told Energy Source & Distribution the company welcomed the government’s report.

“Our view is that this initiative should aim to set a strategic long-term vision for energy in WA including key aspects such as energy security, sustainability and state development,” she said.

“Such an initiative can then inform the development of our energy market and regulatory framework to deal with challenges such incorporating renewable energy into the network, providing incentives for consumers to use electricity more efficiently and security of supply issues. For example one recent challenge was the recent Varanus Island gas explosion that impacted gas supplies and electricity supplies.

“Western Power is eager to contribute to the discussion on this important matter and looks forward to engaging with government and other sector stakeholders.”

Following the report, the Energy Supply Association of Australia (esaa) outlined recommendations for reforms to Western Australia’s energy market in a new whole-of-supply-chain assessment.

esaa said a pathway for an efficient energy market in Western Australia can be achieved by balancing the roles of government, the private sector and markets.

“Energy is critical to the further future development of the Western Australian economy and the prosperity and wealth of its growing population. Clearly, a strategic, long-term and comprehensive energy policy will assist in achieving enduring efficiency objectives in the energy market in the state,” esaa chief executive officer, Brad Page said.

Mr Page said the market arrangements in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) are overly complex and are not conducive for attracting new providers of generation or retail services.

“The SWIS market has a number of features that mean the costs of providing certain services exceed the revenue that is paid to providers.

“We also see regulated retail prices well below the cost of supply and network frameworks that will struggle to meet the new demands of quickly growing renewable energy generation,” Mr Page said.

Mr Page observed that great opportunities exist to create a unified, efficient electricity network in the north-west of Western Australia by bringing together the private and publicly-owned networks to improve the efficiency, reliability and security of supply.

“This is a strategically significant opportunity for the Western Australian Government when viewed against the background of a fast growing resource-rich region where new cities and towns will develop over the next few decades,” he said.