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The State Underground Power Program (SUPP) FAQs

The cost of each SUPP project is shared between the State Government, Western Power and the local government (and their ratepayers).

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.

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 SUPP beyond the projects announced in each new round. The State Government always reviews the state of the network in each area that applies for SUPP, before deciding which projects to fund. 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 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, more reliable power, brighter and safer streetlights, demonstrated increased property value and a safer public environment. It costs Western Power more to install the underground network than it would to continue maintaining the existing overhead network into the future. However, because of the shared funding arrangements that reflect benefits gained by property owners, the State Government and Western Power, underground power can be a positive outcome for all parties.

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 positioned and generally alternate 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 it is complete and 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 wood poles and overhead powerlines 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 network in the streets that those properties are presently connected to. Owners are still required to contribute to that cost. 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 network cannot be turned off until all properties have been changed to the new underground network. Transmission lines and poles in project areas are not included and will remain in place – these occur in about 30% of project areas.

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


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