The McGowan Government has delivered on its commitment to design a fit-for-purpose regulatory framework and system operator for the Pilbara region with the passing of the Electricity Industry Amendment Bill 2019.
The Pilbara is critical to Western Australia’s economy, yet it labours under an electricity system that is fragmented, high-cost and uncompetitive. These reforms will improve the efficiency of electricity services in the region and support economic growth and development through:
- enabling a competitive market that will lower the cost of electricity for large consumers;
- more efficient use of existing infrastructure, and improved investor confidence and opportunities for new mining and renewable projects; and
- enhancing the security and reliability of electricity services in the region.
The reforms have been designed in close consultation with industry and this will continue through the development of the subsidiary legislation.
The Bill includes provisions to support Western Power’s use of stand-alone power systems and storage devices in the Great Southern, Goldfields, Wheatbelt, Mid-West and Geraldton.
Stand-alone power systems have proven to be more cost-effective, safer and reliable than traditional poles and wires in some areas – while storage devices such as batteries will assist in managing some of the challenges related to the high uptake of rooftop solar panels.
As stated by Energy Minister Bill Johnston:
“The Pilbara energy reforms have been talked about for 30 years – passing the Bill marks a key milestone in the McGowan Government’s energy reform agenda.
“The reforms will reduce the regulatory burden placed on Pilbara electricity owners and provide greater certainty to access seekers wishing to invest.
“Greater competition for industrial users will reduce the cost of electricity, and encourage investment and create jobs in the region.
“The reforms will assist in Western Australia’s economic recovery post the COVID-19 crisis.”