Underground power is set to be rolled out to more than 500 homes in the Fremantle suburb of Hilton.
Hilton is one of four Perth suburbs identified by Western Power to participate in a new Network Renewal Underground Program Pilot.
Most of the power poles and overhead power lines in Hilton are old and due for replacement. Western Power is proposing to put the funds needed to install new poles and wires towards the installation of underground power instead.
Western Power would provide $7.4 million to fund the majority of the works, including all mains infrastructure and new LED streetlights, while the City of Fremantle would contribute $1.1 million to fund the connection of residential properties to the mains.
This contribution would be recovered through a service charge levied by the City on properties that receive a new underground connection, to be paid interest-free over a period of seven years.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the opportunity to provide underground power to Hilton at a significantly reduced cost was too good to miss.
“Underground power will not only provide a safer and more reliable power supply but also greatly enhance the appearance of the street and allow street trees to grow to their full height,” Mayor Pettitt said.
“Western Power has also confirmed the underground infrastructure is being future-proofed to allow for easy adoption of emerging sustainable technologies like community battery storage.
“And then there’s the new energy-efficient LED streetlights, which will use around 60,000 kWh less power per year, saving almost 44 tonnes of carbon per year and around $25,000 on the City’s power bill.
“Western Power estimates the connection cost per property will be around $2203, compared to between $3000-$9000 under the previous State Underground Power Project and between $4000-$10,000 for private underground connections.
“When paid off over seven years that works out at around $315 per year, and when you consider the likely increase in property values that will result from having underground power that’s a pretty good deal.
“Overhead power networks are typically upgraded every 40 to 50 years, so if we don’t do this now Western Power will just replace the old poles and wires with new ones, and we won’t get another chance for a long time.”
Last night Fremantle Council voted to support the delivery of the underground power project in Hilton and authorise the Chief Executive Officer to sign a co-funding agreement with Western Power.
The City’s contribution of $1.1 million will be paid in three instalments – $395,000 in March 2022, $395,000 in August 2022 and $322,000 in January 2023.
The council also agreed to apply an annual service charge over a period of no less than seven years to properties within the project boundary area which receive a new underground service, for consideration as part of the annual budget process.
Construction on the project is expected to start in January 2021 and be complete by February 2022.