UNDERGROUND power may carry many benefits but the upfront installation cost is certainly not one of them.
Llewellyn Glaskin was pleased to |receive a letter from the Department of |Finance’s Public Utilities Office surveying support for underground power in his neighbourhood – but the estimated $4450 price tag came as a shock.
A long-time Kardinya resident, Mr Glaskin has a decaying power pole in his front yard and supports the idea of moving electrical infrastructure underground but does not believe residents should be required to pay for it.
“I worked as the manager of a gas company for a long time and we never expected people to pay upfront for the gas lines in their street,” he said. “I don’t see how Western Power is any different – it is government infrastructure and I don’t believe we should be contributing to its maintenance other than through our taxes.”
Mr Glaskin said the fact the State Government was in the midst of a push for the partial privatisation of the electrical utility added to his outrage. “There are a lot of pensioners in this area who might struggle with this upfront cost,” he said.
Pensioners are eligible for a 50 per cent rebate on the cost of the State Underground Power Program but only if they pay the full amount in the same financial year of the charge.
City of Melville acting chief executive Marten Tieleman said the City had participated in the State Underground Power Program since it’s inception in the mid 1990s and over 65 per cent of the City had underground powerlines.
“Overall underground power has proven very popular with property owners across the City, with residents now enjoying the benefits of a more reliable power supply, improved street scapes and street lighting as well as a safer road environment,” Mr Tieleman said.
“It is important to note that projects do not proceed without at least 51 per cent of respondents to a survey taken for a given area, indicating that they support the proposal and are prepared to contribute financially.
“Typically the projects that are undertaken in the City of Melville have had a support rate between 72 and 84 per cent of respondents.”
The section of Kardinya containing Mr Glaskin’s home is one of 27 proposed underground power projects across the Perth metro area in the current round of the program.