ELECTRICITY retailers might be more interested in Tasmanian markets when they can pick off customers one-by-one, a Tasmanian economist has said.
The government this week announced it had closed the books on an attempt to sell Aurora Energy's customer base before receiving any bids because it was unlikely to get a fair and reasonable offer.
The sale was supposed to set the market up for full retail contestability in July next year and make at least $200 million for the state.
Economic consultant Phil Bayley said new retailers might be more comfortable entering the market at that point, because it could be done at much lower risk.
Mr Bayley, who was involved in the reforms, said the $50 million the government has already spent preparing the electricity network for retail competition was not wasted.
``The government was right to pursue a reform program that included a planned sale of the customer base,'' he said.
``Any sale process is subject to a variety of different contingencies.''
Energy experts have suggested that a lack of wholesale power competition made Tasmania an unattractive investment.
But Mr Bayley said while margins were slim, it was likely some companies would still be interested.
The failed sale means Aurora Energy will operate as a retail-only business and compete in an open market from next July.
Opposition energy spokesman Matthew Groom said the ``very important reform'' had suffered from a ``botched process.''
``This was a cornerstone feature of the government's reform package, they said it was essential to give effect to genuine competition in the market, they spent a very significant amount of taxpayer's funds trying to bring this about, and it's collapsed,'' Mr Groom said.
``Clearly, this is not what they intended.''
Mr Groom would not say what the opposition would have done differently, but said: ``I feel confident that we would not have botched this.''
Energy Minister Bryan Green said this week that the government could still achieve the intent of the reform and achieve full retail contestability.