More suburbs going under

FOUR more suburbs in Vincent will get underground power, marking the complete undergrounding of power lines in residential streets and town centres by 2028.

In May the council signed a memorandum of understanding with Western Power to partly cover the cost to sink power lines in three areas where tired out power poles needed replacing anyway. 

That covered a third of households but even with Western Power chipping in, those areas still cost ratepayers an average of $100 extra per year and there were some grumbles at budget time for those left out of the first round of the rollout.

Now the council’s signed a second deal with Western Power for power to go underground in Leederville, Mount Hawthorn, West Perth and North Perth, where the infrastructure is also pretty old. 

Streets will also get upgraded LED street lighting once the poles are pulled out, and about $800,000 per year will be saved from not having to chop trees back to keep them away from power lines. 

Ratepayers will continue to pay for a rolling reserve to pay for the rollout, and while the project is pricey at $104 million, the deal means Western Power covers about 53 per cent cost.

Affordable

“This is the most affordable option for underground power that has been offered to the city and property owners,” mayor Emma Cole said in a statement after the December 13 council meeting where the project was unanimously approved.

“Our dream of flourishing tree canopies is being brought to life thanks to this once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

If the council said no, the current power poles would be replaced with like-for-like infrastructure that’d have an expected lifespan of 50-60 years.

The council ran a survey this year and reported that 80 per cent of respondents rated undergrounding power as a “very high priority”. 

If the schedule goes as planned, works start in Leederville early 2024, then continuing through Mount Hawthorn in mid-2024, West Perth in 2025, and North Perth then Mount Hawthorn in 2026.

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