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The State Underground Power Program (SUPP) FAQs

In Rounds 1 to 5, the cost of each MRP has been shared between the State Government (25%), Western Power (25%) and the local governments (50%); however the funding arrangements for Round 6 will differ from the previous rounds. Please visit the Department of Finance website for more information.

Communities gain substantial benefits from having the power network placed underground in their area. Local governments therefore generally pass the costs onto ratepayers . Some local governments elect to subsidise the project for various reasons but this is not common.

The SUPP is managed by a Steering Committee based at the Public Utilities Office (PUO) and includes representatives from the PUO, Western Power and the WA Local Government Association. Western Power manages the development and delivery of each project.

There is no forward planning for the SUPP beyond the projects announced in each new round. The State Government always reviews the state of the network in each area that is applied for, before deciding which ones it will provide funding to. There are still more than 350,000 connections to overhead networks in Perth and many more in country towns as well. This is forecast to take many more years to convert them all.

Yes, it does. It includes a new underground property service cable from the green connection pillar near the front boundary of the property, to the meter.

Owners of vacant land will be charged for the cost of underground power, just as for local government rates and sewerage. However, there is a reduction in cost because there is no property service connection.

Underground power means property owners will gain greatly enhanced streetscapes, better and more reliable power, brighter and safer streetlights, demonstrated increased property value and a safer public environment. In actual fact, it costs Western Power more to install the underground network, than it would cost to continue maintaining the existing overhead system into the future. However, because of the shared funding arrangements that reflect benefits gained by property owners, the State Government and Western Power, undergrounding power is a better alternative.

In each project, a new street lighting system is designed and installed to the Australian Standard. There are around 10% more lights installed, they are more closely spaced and generally alternated from one side of the road to the other. The new light poles are designed to collapse if hit by vehicles to reduce injuries and damage.

  • Fewer outages during inclement weather 
  • Enhanced visual appearance 
  • Improved property values 
  • Reduced street tree pruning requirements, trees can grow to natural height 
  • Brighter, safer and more evenly lit streets with the new lighting system
  • Installing new underground power cables in the road reserve – usually under verges
  • Installing green connection pillars, usually in the front corner of private property to serve that property, and the immediately adjacent property wherever possible
  • Installing transformers and switchgear units to manage the distribution of power throughout the area. These are located in parks or public open space, or where required, on side verges of residential property
  • Installing an underground connection from the connection pillar to the meter box at each property
  • Changing each property over to the new underground system once the new underground system in the street is complete and it has been made live, and removing the old overhead cable to the house
  • Installing a new street light system designed to meet the Australian Standard for residential street lighting
  • Removing existing wooden poles and overhead power lines in the streets (excluding transmission lines and poles).

Yes, even though there is underground power within some properties, around 85% of the cost of the project is for the new underground network being installed to replace the old overhead system in the streets that those properties are presently connected to, and owners still need to contribute for that. The local government allows a discount to property owners with existing underground property service connections.

Yes, all distribution wires and poles will be removed. This may not occur in some areas until late in the project because some parts of the overhead system cannot be turned off until all properties have been changed to the new underground system. Transmission lines and poles in project areas are not included and will remain – these occur in about 30% of project areas.

These are not included as the costs are too expensive to replace with an underground system.


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