WA Government announces sale of Western Power

The West Australian Government has confirmed it will sell 51 per cent of Western Power.

The partial sale, which will only take place if the current government is re-elected in March, will result in no increases in electricity costs.

Premier Colin Barnett said the Next Generation Account would be created with $3 billion from the sale proceeds of Western Power, to fund investment in the initial priority areas of schools and TAFE facilities, transport infrastructure, and improving the reliability of electricity supplies in country areas.

“The part sale of Western Power will provide the funds needed to expand the State’s capital works program to fix local schools, build new transport links, and stimulate the State’s economy,” the Premier said.

“These projects will create thousands of jobs – for builders, tradies, construction workers, engineers, technology providers, and their support staff – in communities throughout Western Australia.

“The sale proceeds will also be used to reduce state debt by about $8 billion.”

Treasurer and Energy Minister Mike Nahan said there would be no increase in the cost of electricity for WA consumers or any reduction in the safety and reliability of the electricity network as a result of the proposed public float of Western Power.

“Under the 51 per cent public float proposal, the State Government will remain the largest shareholder (at 49 per cent), with indicative targets of 30 per cent of shares being sold to Australian superannuation funds and 20 per cent to mum and dad retail investors, including Western Power employees,” Dr Nahan said.

“This model will address any national security concerns about foreign ownership. Western Power will not be foreign-owned or controlled.

“It will be business as usual for workers at Western Power as strict employee protections will be outlined as part of the float process.”

Western Power is a regulated monopoly, which means a number of independent regulators will continue to oversee the various parts of the business, including safety, reliability, prices and performance.

Nationals (WA) Leader Brendon Grylls said funds from the Next Generation Account would be used to improve electricity reliability at the edge of the grid in country areas.

“For West Australians living at the end of long feeder lines, this additional investment in edge-of-grid electricity solutions, including microgrids, will make a huge difference in their lives, while also ensuring we remain at the forefront of technological advances,” Mr Grylls said.

Western Power is responsible for bringing electricity from power stations to homes and businesses in the South-West of WA.

According to the Associations of Professional Engineers, the sale of Western Power would cost local jobs and lead to higher electricity prices.

CEO Chris Walton said the Government’s plan was short-sighted and would compromise Western Australia’s technical capacity, in-turn risking the state’s power supply.

“Selling off this asset will only lead to job losses and a further loss to technical capacity the state simply cannot afford,” said Mr Walton.

“Privatising power utilities inevitably leads to job cuts, we have seen this time and time again in other States across the country.”