New South Wales energy minister, Kim Yeadon, yesterday said that businesses should benefit from the creation of one of the largest regional electricity businesses in Australia. In launching County Energy, formed through the amalgamation of three state-owned power companies – Advance, NorthPower and Great Southern Energy – he said the new company would be better able to survive in the deregulated market.
The organisation’s customer base covers three quarters of the state and will compete with 13 other electricity suppliers in a move expected to drive down prices. However, competition has been controlled with 8 000 large businesses offered the opportunity to change suppliers in January.
This month, 33 000 small business will be given the opportunity to shop around for the best deal. Around two million households will be able to change suppliers early next year. “As more and more customers have the right to choose their suppliers, we are confident that Country Energy can deliver cost effective pricing and services to customers,” Mr Yeadon said.
“We have a decentralized structure with regional management so that decisions are made locally by people who live and work in the area.”
New South Wales and Victoria operate a combined regional electricity market. Market reforms have strongly reduced prices due to overcapacity and strong competition although prices have begun to rise recently as increasing demand has absorbed spare capacity.
By 2003, it is planned that all Australian domestic consumers will have a choice of electricity supplier.