Energy Policy in WA: An Inclusive Future?
Kelly Pohatu, Events and Communications Coordinator
Two BCEC Feature reports examining energy policy in Western Australia were launched at a special BCEC workshop on Thursday 27 September 2018.
The workshop explored ways WA can strike the right balance between affordability, reliability and environmental impact in its energy market, while ensuring responsiveness to changing consumer needs and space for innovation. An inclusive future is one in which essential service provision is efficient and effective and no-one in our community is left behind.
The event was well attended by representatives from government, industry and the not for profit sector.
The first BCEC-funded project, Gas and oil prospects: The insertion of Australia into international markets, led by Dr Julian Inchauspe, Senior Lecturer at Curtin University’s School of Economics, Finance and Property, examined key trends and developments that underpin the profitability and risk of liquefied natural gas (LNG) investment; and asks if WA is positioned to take advantage of technological advances that are yet to be inserted into the Australian market.
The second report launched at the event was, Power plans for electricity: The impact of tariff structure changes on energy vulnerable households, led by Dr Tom Houghton, Senior Lecturer, at Curtin University’s School of Economics, Finance and Property, and examined the experiences of vulnerable households who participated in a pricing research pilot, including larger families and those with lower incomes or receiving concessions.
The research was a collaboration between the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS) and Horizon Power, using data from a pilot study collected through meter readings, questionnaires and face-to-face interviews with regional Western Australian households during the 2016/17 summer period.
Dr Houghton said power plans where customers are charged partly for their peak capacity, had the potential to smooth energy costs over the course of a year by charging in a similar way to mobile phone plans.
The workshop included a special panel discussion on the topic ‘Energy in WA: How do we develop an inclusive and innovative policy in WA?’.
Chris Twomey, Research and Policy Development Leader at WACOSS facilitated the discussion with Ronny Flendt, Head of Customer Billing and Assurance, Water Corporation; Louise Giolitto, Chief Executive Officer, WACOSS; Geoff White, Manager Customer Service, Horizon Power; Professor Alan Duncan, Director, BCEC and Dr Tom Houghton, Senior Lecturer, School of Economics, Finance and Property at Curtin University.
Ronny Flendt said Water Corporation had introduced innovative ways to better reach out and support customers in hardship, including a customer engagement survey.
Geoff White said Horizon Power was uniquely positioned, given its role as an integrated generation, network and retail business and its challenges as a regional and remote provider in a harsh climate, to use its advanced metering technology to innovate and explore customer experiences in order to drive a better product.
Louise Giolitto, Chief Executive Officer, WACOSS said the research highlighted wider community issues linked to poverty and financial hardship, which needed to be addressed by industry and the government.