Western Power is an electricity network operator owned by the Western Australia State Government. It owns and operates most of the South West Interconnected Network (SWIN), which covers an area of 261,000 square kilometres. Western Power carries electricity to over a million people. Its customer base is subdivided into seven major segments: residential customers (over 90% of the total), business customers, major customers, land developers and designers, contractors, local governments and generators.
As the only electricity transmission and distribution utility in the whole region, Western Power is a natural monopoly. Because there is no competition available to steer the company towards economic efficiency (and keep prices low and the quality high), the corporation is publicly owned and the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) oversees all of its activities. However, an independent board runs Western Power for profit and reports directly to the Western Australia Minister for Energy, who acts as a representative for the public.
- Vision: Western Power's purpose is to connect people with electricity in a safe and reliable way and at an affordable cost. It takes electricity from generators and carries it along 96,000 kilometres of powerlines and over 790,000 poles to its diverse customer base and aims to do this in the most efficient way possible.
- Differentiation: Western Power is owned by the state government, but remains guided by the profit motive. The company generates income from network tariffs and doesn’t receive taxpayers’ money like more typical government-owned corporations do. If Western Power fails to make a profit or doesn’t adhere to certain quality standards, it gets penalised.
- Philosophy: In the south west of Australia, the electricity network is a true natural monopoly. In the interests of providing the best possible service to the Western Australian populace at the lowest possible cost, Western Power has been organised as a GTE (Government Trading Enterprise). This means that it combines commercial methods and market-based thinking with public ownership, all with the purpose of delivering electricity cheaply, reliably and safely.
- Sustainability: The area in which Western Power is active is internationally recognised for its unique environmental quality and diverse ecosystem. The company goes to great lengths to minimise the impact of its electricity network on the natural environment and details its strategy in some detail in its Western Power Environmental Policy document (PDF). Some specific initiatives are the Environmentally Sensitive Areas management system (with nearly 300 ESA sites), the proactive approach to cleaning up oil spills and the protection and conservation of native animal species like the Eastern Osprey, the Common Brushtail Possum, the Western Ringtail Possum and three types of Black Cockatoo.
- Charities & Community Investment: Western Power proudly supports the Royal Life Saving Society, Volunteer Bushfire Brigades, the Bibbulmun Track, the Centre for Phytophthora Science & Management and the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Urban Landcare Group. It also funds several scholarships in the fields of engineering or electrical engineering every year, such as the Bruce Kirkwood Memorial Scholarship and the Stuart Morgan Scholarship.