WOODVALE residents continue to be kept in the dark with streetlights broken for more than five months due to budget pressures and human resourcing issues, says North Metropolitan MLC Tjorn Sibma.
Mr Sibma said street lighting problems – caused by underground cable issues – had affected the suburb since February, when he was contacted by an Acheson Crescent resident who was told by a Western Power employee that budget and staffing restrictions inhibited response times.
When questioned by Mr Sibma in Parliament last month, ministers denied budgeting and human resource issues had constrained the government-owned corporation from routine maintenance and replacement activities.
Mr Sibma said in correspondence, Western Power staff admitted budget pressures prevented them fixing faults not considered ‘emergencies’, leaving Woodvale residents in limbo.
“It concerns me that somebody at the customer service coalface in Western Power, quite truthfully I would say, advised an aggrieved customer that they could not get satisfaction earlier, notwithstanding any technical problems, because there were ‘budget and therefore staffing restrictions’,” he said.
Kingsley MLA Jessica Stojkovski, who has been contacted by four residents about street lighting issues in Woodvale and is working with Western Power on fixing the issue, said the statement was completely inaccurate and misleading.
“Western Power has confirmed that there are no budget or human resourcing constraints impacting its ability to undertake routine maintenance and has actually apologised to the government and Energy Minister Ben Wyatt for the customer correspondence which stated this,” she said.
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, representing Energy Minister Ben Wyatt in Parliament, said the street lighting power outage was one of 49 underground cable faults across the suburb expected to be repaired by July.
“Cable faults are significantly more costly and difficult to repair than globe faults and generally take between eight to 12 weeks to identify and fully repair,” he said. “The Energy Minister will request that Western Power reviews the repair activities in Woodvale and Kingsley in depth and provide detailed advice about whether any further process improvements are warranted.”
Western Power Response
Thousands of dollars worth of upgrades will be made to street lighting in Woodvale following an “unusual increase in faults”, according to a Western Power spokesman.
Since January, Western Power identified several issues with the underground power system affecting 43 lights over 11 circuits, where sections of cable were no longer fit for service.
Kingsley MLA Jessica Stojkovski said the underground network in Woodvale was about 40 years old and needed to be upgraded.
“I am concerned that the lights have been out for an extended period of time. This is a very important issue, particularly as they provide both real and perceived safety for residents, which is why we have been in regular contact with Western Power about this issue,” she said.
“The Woodvale street lights are an example of the complexities of cable faults and the significant investment that is made to maintain the underground networks by Western Power.”
The Western Power spokesman said an $80,000 upgrade to the underground network was being finalised to address current lighting issues after receiving an increased number of fault reports from residents.
“Given this unusual increase in fault reports for the area, we initiated an audit of the network to see if the cause was due to an underground cable fault,” he said.
“This project to upgrade the network began in March 2018 and the final lights for this project are due to be re-energised shortly.
“As well as the upgrading of the underground cable to meet modern standards, the network was also redesigned to ensure future bale faults could be isolated to a single light rather than an entire circuit.”