Risky Western Power break-up falls at first hurdle-...now for real electricity reform

November 19, 2003 - Greens (WA) energy spokesperson Robin Chapple MLC welcomed the decision by the Liberal Party to hold firm in opposition to the State Government's proposal to break Western Power into separate corporate entities.

'Now the real test of the Government's commitment to true electricity reform begins,' Mr Chapple said. 'Energy Minister Eric Ripper has recently discovered the benefits that a local renewable energy industry can bring to the State's economy and environment. At a recent industry breakfast for sustainable energy developers, Minister Ripper made a series of sweeping promises to the RE industry, and we are determined to see these urgent reforms carried through.'

The first priority for the Government should be to finalise the transitional access arrangements for the renewable energy industry, which the industry has been waiting on for years. The arrangements are reportedly close to finalisation, and their release will provide crucial proof of the Government's commitment to tackling climate change.

The Greens (WA) do not support the breakup of Western Power, citing extreme uncertainty as to the costs and benefits of the plan. Ignoring evidence from the eastern states and around the world, the Government has been unable to show how its plan will provide any benefits to ordinary Western Australians. As recently as last week the Minister was unable to say whether or not residential power prices would fall under the plan.

'The Government's intention is to increase the State's greenhouse emissions by attracting energy intensive industries with the promise of lower electricity prices. This flies in the face of ecological common sense,' Mr Chapple said.

The breakup plan completely avoided taking any of the urgent steps toward real demand management and energy efficiency which the climate challenge demands. With this enormous distraction out of the way, the Greens hope the Parliament will be able to turn its' energies toward more useful electricity reforms leading to reliable electricity supply, a switch to renewable sources, and an integrated energy policy for Western Australia.

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