An EnergySafety review has confirmed that Western Power has met the requirements of an order issued in September 2009 to make its rural wood distribution poles safe and to develop a sound management plan for their maintenance.
The order required Western Power to reinforce or replace all aged hardwood poles in its rural distribution network.
Commerce Minister Michael Mischin said completion of the work under the order was a major public safety achievement, with Western Power treating about 170,000 poles in rural areas.
"I am confident that compliance with the order will significantly reduce the risk of bushfires and power interruptions caused by wood poles breaking at ground level and falling," Mr Mischin said.
"Jarrah and other hardwood poles used throughout the electricity network can be weakened at the ground line by fungal and termite attack, which can lead to failure when subject to wind forces much less than applicable standards require them to withstand.
"The Director of EnergySafety has carried out his own checks and assessments to confirm that pole reinforcement and replacement work has been completed in the rural network in accordance with the order."
Energy Minister Mike Nahan said the work was completed safely, on time and under budget, with a $620 million investment from the Liberal National Government.
"In addition to significantly reducing the public safety risk posed by wood poles, the order helped prompt a profound change in the way Western Power manages its power pole network including inspection practices, data management and work practices," Dr Nahan said.
"Western Power is also proceeding with reinforcing and replacing wood poles in the metropolitan area and in regional centres. Already, more than half the poles needing attention have been reinforced or replaced under a risk-based priority system.
"This work will continue, with the poles presenting the greatest risk of failure being attended to in order of priority. Any poles found to present an imminent risk will be treated immediately."
In September 2009, EnergySafety issued Order No. 01-2009 under Section 18B of the Energy Coordination Act 1994 to ensure Western Power addressed urgent safety risks associated with its ageing wood pole system
The order required specified corrective steps to be completed by set dates
A report, summarising the reasons why the order was issued, how Western Power responded to meeting its requirements and the final checks carried out by EnergySafety to ensure these requirements had been met, is available at https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/energysafety/audit-reviews
Phone 13 10 87 if you have any questions about a wood pole near you