The Public Utilities Office has begun work on the design of a new regulatory framework for the Pilbara’s North West Interconnected System (NWIS) to open up access to the grid to third parties and coordinate the day to day operation of the network. The 9 August media statement from Energy Minister Ben Wyatt said that the aim is to develop light touch regulatory arrangements to allow third party access to Horizon Power’s part of the network and to allow for coordinated operation of the NWIS.
New regulatory arrangements will be developed by the Public Utilities Office in consultation with industry. The Energy Minister expects to be in a position to present detailed designs to Cabinet in early 2018.
The NWIS is the second largest interconnected grid in Western Australia covering the areas around Karratha and Port Hedland in the State’s Pilbara region. The NWIS is currently owned by different parties, including Rio Tinto, Horizon Power and Alinta Energy. Each owner separately operate their part of the network with little central coordination in day to day operations.
In 2014 Alinta Energy submitted an application to the Minister for Energy to seek coverage of Horizon Power’s part of the NWIS and thereby gain access on a regulated basis to use Horizon Power’s network to retail electricity to customers in the Karratha and Port Hedland areas. The coverage application has since been withdrawn.