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After significant damage was caused to Western Power’s overhead network in very severe storms in 1994, the State Government established the State Underground Power Program (SUPP) to convert areas of distribution overhead wires and poles to underground. A Steering Committee, comprising the Public Utilities Office (previously the Office of Energy), Western Power and the WA Local Government Association, was established to manage the program.
The State Underground Power Program (SUPP) is a State Government initiative administered by the Public Utilities Office at the Department of Finance. Local Councils can nominate areas to be converted to underground power. Each nomination is assessed against social, economic and technical criteria by the SUPP Steering Committee.
There are two streams to the SUPP - Major Residential Projects (MRPs) and Local Enhancement Projects (LEPs). MRPs are usually around 600 to 1000 properties in residential areas while the LEPs are usually around a kilometer of roads, such as main streets in country towns or council areas in the metropolitan area, or areas of historical and/or heritage significance.
At the moment SUPP consists of 5 rounds, rounds 1 - 4 have been completed with round 5 due to be completed by September 2017. The SUPP Steering Committee are expected to invite Local Councils to apply for the upcoming Round 6 projects at the end of 2015 with construction of the projects starting between 2017 to 2019.
The SUPP is funded by State Government and Western Power (25% each) and the relevant Local Government is required to fund the remaining 50%. Generally, Local Governments pass the majority of their responsibility onto the ratepayers in the project area as they gain substantial benefits from having the power network placed underground in their area. Some Local Government elect to contribute to the project costs for various reasons but this is not common.
What are the benefits of having the power cables laid underground?
- Fewer blackouts during inclement weather
- Enhanced visual appearance
- Improved property values
- Reduced street tree pruning requirements, trees can grow to natural height
- Brighter, safer and more evenly lit streets with the new lighting system
- Reduces personal safety hazards caused by fallen power lines, pruning near power lines and car accidents involving power poles
For a list of completed projects and further information on the SUPP see, www.westernpower.com.au/network-projects-your-community-state-underground-power-program-upp-.html.
For more information contact our office on (08) 9219 2004, email email@example.com.