The West

Western Power sale worth $10b

Selling Western Power whole could generate more than $10 billion for the State Government, according to the hand-picked panel charged with reducing WA's net debt.

The asset sales task force is understood to have run the ruler over Western Power as part of its recent report to government, finding that a wholesale privatisation would get the highest return.

However, it is believed the group also looked at the break-up of the utility into its transmission and distribution arms amid a belief that selling it off in parts would be more politically palatable.

Such a move would probably yield the Government much less cash.

The utility's transmission assets - mainly its high-voltage powerlines - are believed to have been valued about $6.5 billion by the task force.

The distribution network, consisting of electrical substations and suburban powerlines, would be expected to fetch about $2.5 billion.

Although Treasurer and Energy Minister Mike Nahan declined to be drawn on the issue, he has previously noted Western Power's heavy contribution to State net debt.

Last year's State Budget said the electricity distributor was responsible for about a third of the debt pile - a figure likely to grow.

There have also been calls from industry groups, including the energy sector, to privatise assets such as Western Power.

The Energy Supply Association of Australia said the utility was being eroded in value as "disruptive technologies" such as solar panels ate into revenues.

The Economic Regulation Authority has said the private sector is better placed to manage the risks "due to its ability to innovate, diversify and price risk".

In the lead-up to last year's State election, Premier Colin Barnett flatly ruled out the prospect of privatising Western Power. But he later suggested some of its individual assets could be hived off.

The West Australian

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