State power plan cost criticised

At a special council meeting last Thursday, councillors voted to submit proposals to fund the remainder of properties not supplied with underground power under round six of the State Underground Power Program.

The project is expected to cost about $40 million, with $36 million required from the Town and affected property owners and $4 million from the State Government.

About 5000 Town of Cambridge properties have underground power and about 3200 still have overhead power.

Cr Corinne MacRae said the estimated cost per property was about $12,500, according to Western Power.

“$12,500 is the average cost, depending on the area and how big the lot is. It will vary,” she said.

“Their process is targeted towards wealthy councils; I think it is terrible, really. I think the State Government has really been let off the hook here and I completely disagree with putting so much of the Town’s money into a State project.”

Cambridge director of projects Brett Jackson said the Town’s proposal was for it to fund 90 per cent of the project, with 50 per cent of that coming from property owners and 40 per cent from the Town’s reserves.

“The real kicker is who else is bidding? It is a lottery,” he said.

“Even if we get through to the shortlist, there is still a chance we won’t get it.”

A community information and consultation process will be developed to gauge property owners’ interest in the project.

If the Town is shortlisted, a comprehensive pricing model would be developed and adopted by the council. The selected areas for the program will be presented to the council for ratification.