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Utility scales back on expenses
Last orders: Western Power has scaled back on expenses. Picture: Gerald Moscards/The West Australian

Spending on expensive meals and corporate getaways has been slashed more than 70 per cent in two years by State-owned electricity distributor Western Power after an outcry over previous "excesses".

Answers to questions on notice after an appearance by Western Power executives at an Upper House committee hearing last week show the utility spent $294,182 on entertainment in the 12 months to December 31 last year.

This was almost 50 per cent less than the $573,795 Western Power outlaid on entertainment in 2012 and a whopping 73 per cent less than the $1.107 million it forked out in 2011.

In the five previous years dating back to 2006, the Government-controlled group had shelled out an average of about $720,000 a year on entertainment.

Its entertainment spending relates to items including "recreation", meals and end-of-year functions.

The crackdown on entertainment spending came after the utility was publicly criticised in 2011 when 13 executives racked up a bill of $2300 for a dinner at one of Perth's most exclusive restaurants.

Then energy minister Peter Collier chastised Western Power for the "quite excessive" function, which was held in the private champagne room at Must Winebar in Highgate.

Separate answers to parliamentary questions on notice show Western Power spent $24,940 at the Novotel Vines Resort in October last year for a workshop for the utility's "senior leadership team".

However, Western Power noted "the cost was not high" in comparison to what other Government agencies spent on similar workshops, while it had also sought quotes from several venues.

"The Novotel Vines was considered the best value for money venue at the time" the utility said, also noting that its total spending for the 2012-13 financial year was $1.9 billion.

Western Power chief executive Paul Italiano said he stood by his statement in August 2012 that there would be no more lavish staff parties at the utility.

He said he was also acutely aware of the community's expectations on non-core discretionary expenditure and remained committed to responsible financial management, which was evidenced through the significant improvements delivered in 2012/13.

Shadow energy minister Bill Johnston said he was glad Western Power had reduced its "culture of excess" but that $150,000 spent by the utility on end-of-year functions last year was too much.