Underground Power and Kensington

Media Response 30 May 2008
Underground Power

Background: Would you be able to get a comment from the Mayor on the underground power issue in Kensington and surrounding areas? Apparently residents have been waiting years for this to happen and despite past promises from Western Power and the current Federal Government, nothing has happened. Other areas (mainly in the northern suburbs) have been earmarked by the Energy Minister recently but only a small part of Como in the South Perth area.

Please attribute the below information to City of South Perth Mayor James Best.

The State Undergrounding of Powerlines Program (SUPP) is being completed in rounds, with each round representing a funding allocation for the undergrounding of powerlines and having a duration of approximately four years.

An underground power area is typically defined as 1250 suburban single residential lots and South Perth has been divided into seven such areas, excluding the areas of Waterford and Karawara where underground power is already installed. The SUPP is a State Government initiative with priority determined by Western Power based on the capacity of the existing overhead system to provide continuous supply to the area plus the condition rating of the basic infrastructure.

Unfortunately the City cannot influence the priority for installation but can only nominate project areas when submissions are sought, with these assessed against certain criteria set by Western Power. The City has already had a successful Round One project with Como West and a Round Two project in Mill Point. Como East, which is currently being undertaken, is a Round Three project.

The City is very keen to progress with the remaining areas but the disappointing truth is that the undergrounding of power for all South Perth areas is unlikely to be completed before 2025 with the current rates and financial contribution from the State. While the City has been successful in the first three Rounds, the four remaining areas for undergrounding of powerlines were put up in Round Four as four discrete projects but none were approved.

Round Five applications will be called probably late in 2009 and the City will again submit the four areas for consideration, however it seems there would need to be a significant increase in State funding or some major changes within the underground power areas for any of the remaining South Perth areas to be considered in Rounds Five or Six, with the possible exception of Manning Salter Point. Already there are the ‘Reserve Projects’ (not funded but approved in case one of the other approved projects was not taken up by the local authority) from Round Three carried forward plus any new and more pressing projects from previously non participating Local Governments.

There are several matters in combination working against Kensington when submissions for the area are being considered in competition with other areas: - Western Power has declared the area a "secure" supply area. Ie. it has limited power outages - The low density residential zoning does not support major redevelopment and therefore the demand should not outstrip the overhead network's capacity to supply - It is not a sole remaining area with overhead supply being immediately surrounded by other areas that have had underground power installed. 

Media contact

For media enquiries, please contact the City’s Communications Officer.