Households will soon be able to choose who they buy their electricity from for the first time under a shake-up of the power sector announced by the State Government today.
Energy Minister Mike Nahan confirmed this afternoon that he would push for a move towards so-called full retail contestability after a wholesale review of the electricity system.
But Dr Nahan has bowed to pressure from Premier Colin Barnett and will not split up and sell off Government-owned utility Synergy despite saying he wanted to last year.
As flagged last week, Dr Nahan wants to bring down longstanding barriers that have forced householders to buy their electricity from Synergy.
In a statement released today, he said he wanted to end the arrangement and introduce "choice" for residential customers subject to safeguards.
"Subject to adequate consumer protection mechanisms being established, households and small businesses should have the same opportunity for choice and better prices in their purchase of electricity services," Dr Nahan said.
"It is also expected that Synergy will be free to retail gas to small business and residential consumers once full retail contestability is introduced."
Other changes outlined by the minister include sending regulatory control of government-controlled network operator Western Power to the Australian Energy Regulator in Melbourne.
Dr Nahan said this would force Western Power to be more efficient and increase transparency.
But the Government would not split Synergy or sell it as one or more concern, although Dr Nahan said individual assets could be put on the chopping block.