State Government projects
You can visit Western Power’s website which can be found here: www.westernpower.com.au/.
State Underground Power Program (SUPP)
The State Underground Power Program (SUPP) is a State Government initiative established to provide 50% of Perth households with underground power by the year 2010, and this milestone has now been achieved with the existing program coming to an end with the completion of Round 5.
What is the State underground power program?
Previously nominations for proposed projects were invited from interested local government authorities (LGAs) prior to the commencement of each round. LGAs were asked to nominate projects using set selection criteria, with each nomination assessed against social, economic and technical criteria by the SUPP Steering Committee, who then selected projects on behalf of the Public Utilities Office (PUO) formerly Office of Energy.
The SUPP incorporated two types of projects:
- Major Residential Projects (MRP) involve large areas of predominantly residential properties. Prior to Round 5 preferred project sizes vary from 800 to 1300 lots, for Round 5 that was revised to between 600 and 1000 lots
- Localised Enhancement Projects (LEP) which were smaller in size and involve precinct areas of high significance to the community. That is, usually around a kilometre of roads, such as main streets in country towns, significant council areas in the metropolitan area, or areas of historical or heritage significance.
This program has now been restarted with the Minister for Energy announcing a replacement program as Round 6.
How are the works funded?
Under the original State Underground Power Program (SUPP), 50% of project costs were subsidised by the State Government through the Office of Energy and Western Power, with the remaining 50% provided by the relevant local government authority.
The City of Stirling operates under a 'user pays' principle for funding, and in accordance with the benefits accruing to property owners identified in the ERA report, its contribution is fully recovered from the owners of properties that benefit from the underground power works.
Please note that the successor program to the original SUPP, which concluded on the completion of existing Round 5 SUPP projects, is substantially different even though it is offered as Round 6. This successor program is based on differing system reliability criteria and has a competitive bidding element that provides a higher score to LGAs that offer a greater than 50% contribution.
Previous projects in the City of Stirling
The State Underground Power Program (SUPP) commenced in 1996 and was administered in rounds of approximately 3 years duration.
The City of Stirling made submissions for all rounds of the program and was awarded projects in the following rounds:
- Round 1: Woodlands and part of Doubleview were completed as a Major Residential Project (MRP)
- Round 2: The Scarborough Beach precinct was designated as a Localised Enhancement Project (LEP) and the Mt Lawley precinct as an MRP
- Round 3, Churchlands and Wembley Downs had the work completed in 2 years as an MRP
- Round 4: The Balcatta project was awarded by the SUPP steering committee, however support from public consultation in the affected area was low and the City could not proceed to Council mandate for inclusion in the scheme
- Round 5: Coolbinia project was selected for inclusion in the SUPP as an MRP and was completed in January 2015.
Current projects in the City of Stirling
You may have recently received an Underground Power Notice (invoice) from the City, as underground power will soon be installed across your suburb. We would like to reassure you that the amount on the invoice can be paid over time, and in seven yearly instalments. Western Power has advised that a construction start is anticipated for early February 2019, although contact details for the contractor undertaking the work have yet to be confirmed to the City. Once a date is confirmed, and Western Power contact details for the contractor undertaking the work can be included, the City will be mailing out a ‘Project Start Up Newsletter’ on behalf of Western Power to all property owners in the SUPP. This will also be uploaded to this webpage. Further quarterly Newsletter updates will be uploaded and only be available from this webpage, however, property owners may apply in writing for a hard copy to be sent by mail.
View the Menora SUPP start up newsletter
- To assist in paying this amount, the due date for the first instalment (or payment in full if feasible) has been extended to 30 April 2019. The recurring instalment dates will also be extended to 30 April of each year and the City will send an instalment reminder reflecting this
- However, if the instalment options outlined on the invoice don’t work for you, please give us a call on 9205 8555 to discuss a tailored payment plan
- Please note that the 9% default penalty interest will only be applied if no payment is made
- If you are an eligible pensioner that would like to take advantage of the State Government Rebate, please note that full payment is required by 30 June 2019.
If you have any concerns over the payment installments, please phone the Customer Contact Centre.
Following the community participation survey, undertaken by the Public Utilities Office (PUO) in 2016, and the Ministerial announcement in January 2017 that Trigg was to be included in the program, the City has now (April 2019) written to all property owners within the Trigg SUPP project area, with an update on progress.
The information included in that letter provided the following advice:
- Property owners will be asked to contribute a portion of the project costs – an estimated $10,100 per typical single residential property.
- The results from that survey showed that 63% (the majority) of respondents supported the project and the associated costs.
- More detailed confirmation of individual property financial contributions will be provided in the coming months as more detailed designs and costings are made available by Western Power.
- While the project still has a number of approvals to go through before it is able to begin, works should commence during the first half of 2020 and take approximately 12 months to complete.
Following the April update letter, all additional progress reports will be provided by updating this page. Once the project receives final sign-off, and the formal contract between the City, Western Power and the State Government is in place, the City will be mailing out a ‘Project Start Up Newsletter’, on behalf of Western Power, to all property owners in the Trigg SUPP project. An indication of the typical information that will be included in that newsletter, together with some FAQs, can be found by following the link to the Menora SUPP start up newsletter above.
Round 6 - State Underground Power program
In December 2015 the Public Utilities Office released guideline details for local governments to participate in Round 6 of the State Underground Power program. A significant difference to the previous rounds is that LGAs are required to nominate the proportion of project contribution level likely to be acceptable to the community. Under the new proposals, although the minimum contribution from local governments remains 50%, this now carries a zero score while project proposals offering a greater contribution share will receive a higher score in the selection process and be more competitive.
A copy of the Minutes from a Report (item 10.3/ED2) to Council on 1 March 2016 can be downloaded here: Council Minutes 1 March 2016 (item 10.3/ED2). In accordance with the Council resolution, the City put forward Expressions of Interest for three projects in Round 6 for consideration by the SUPP Steering Committee.
Menora and Trigg are now progressing to the next stage, however North Beach was unsuccessful. As a result, the Public Utilities Office undertook a formal public consultation for both Menora and Trigg.
On 1 February 2017, the City received notification from the Minister for Energy that the SUPP Steering Committee had approved both Menora and Trigg to progress to the 'Detailed Proposal Stage'. Subject to detailed design and contract, it is likely Trigg will commence in late 2019. A plan for each of the prospective projects, showing the current project area and participating properties, is available below.
How can I apply for information on future projects in the City of Stirling?
Should you require further information on the SUPP, the City advises that this is a matter for the State Government and that additional queries should be addressed through:
The dollar value in the survey letter is different to what is on my Underground Power Rates Notice?
The survey letter was an estimated average figure of $8,000 for a typical single residential property. The maximum amount payable for a typical single residential property is $8,299.75 but the average in the City’s financial model for a typical single residential property is $7,956.
The maximum figure includes the full network fee and full connection fee, however not all properties have a full connection fee which results in a lower average figure than the maximum value above.
How has the City allocated the cost of the project to property owners?
The City has used a dollar per kilo-volt-ampere (KVA) allocation methodology for the financial model to determine the Network Charge to Property Owners. The network has been designed to meet the expected energy requirements for the area and this is achieved by allocating a KVA to each property type. The total KVA’s are added up together and then divided by the total project network cost to get a dollar per KVA. The dollar per KVA is then multiplied against an assigned expected KVA for that property which results in the total network fee for that property. A connection charge is then calculated based on the connection type for each property and then added to the network charge to arrive at the full project cost required to be paid by the Property Owner.
Why are commercial type properties much higher than the advised survey amount?
As noted above each property type is allocated a specific KVA based on what it is expected to be drawn from the network. Each commercial property is carefully assessed with assistance from Western Power for its expected KVA draw. That KVA value is multiplied against the dollar per KVA which results in the total network fee for that property. The larger the KVA required the larger the amount required to contribute to the infrastructure required for the network.
What happens to any outstanding monies owed on my property if I sell my house?
As with outstanding Council rates, any amount outstanding for the underground power project charge would be payable on settlement if the property is sold.
What if I cannot afford to pay the Underground Payment Notice?
Payment options are outlined on the Notice. If you are unable to meet these options please contact the City to discuss the matter further.
Can I defer my Underground Power charge?
Ratepayers who are eligible Pensioners are entitled to defer the payment of the underground power charge in the same way they defer rates. The deferred amount will be charged in full, no rebate will be applied and payable in full at the time of the property sale.
Does the cost per property include the connection to my meter box?
Yes, it does. It includes a new underground property service cable from the green dome near the front of your property, to your meter. If you have already have the connection undergrounded please refer to the next FAQ.
Some properties already have underground power from the front of the property to the meter box, would these owners still have to pay for the project?
Yes, but they will receive a discount on the connection fee component. A discount of 50% of the property owner’s connection fee would apply for property owners with an existing underground property service connection where a new pillar is required. If there is already an existing underground connection and pillar a full discount of the connection fee is given. The property owner will still have to pay the network charge component of the project cost for that property.
What if my land is vacant?
Vacant land would be charged for the cost of underground power, just as for Council rates and sewerage. However there will be no connection fee payable by the property owner due to there being no property service connection.
Are there any other unknown costs at this point such as for non-compliant electrical installations identified during the project?
There are no other costs. Property owners would only have to pay the property owner cost as per their Rates Notice. Any non-compliant electrical installation at the meter box will be remedied by the project at no cost to the owner. Western Power does not otherwise inspect the property for non-compliant electrical installations.
The project is set to commence in January/February 2019 and is on schedule for completion in January 2020.
Western Power will be installing the new underground cabling progressively through the street verges, and from the front of each property to the meter box (except where this cable already exists) using below ground boring methods. Once the new system is connected and energised, Western Power will change each property over from the overhead to the new underground system. The old overhead system is then removed as soon as possible.
What happens if the contractors damage my property, the verge or my reticulation?
These works are a major civil project and even with the non-invasive methods used, some verge and front garden disruption will occur. To assist the process, all verges and work areas will be filmed before work commences.
Property Owners/Occupiers should direct any requests to the relevant contractor, as they are responsible for all re-instatements and repairs and have all the appropriate resources. The various Advices delivered during the project will contain the contractor’s contact details. Property Owners/Occupiers can always contact Western Power or the City of Stirling if they are not satisfied with the contractor’s response.
Property Owners/Occupiers will not be reimbursed for work done by any other party to reinstate or repair damage caused by the contractor during the work without the contractor’s prior authorisation. Property Owners/Occupiers are encouraged to carry out minor re-instatements or repairs if they wish, provided no reimbursement is sought. The contractors reserve the right to charge for time taken to investigate complaints that are subsequently shown to be clearly unrelated to the underground power work.
Would all the old overhead lines and poles be removed?
All the distribution lines in the project area will be removed but this would 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.
However, there is a Western Power transmission line on Bradford Street and Learoyd Street that will not be removed.
Why should property owners contribute to the replacement of Western Power infrastructure?
It costs Western Power a lot less to deliver power to consumers by maintaining the overhead system instead of installing a new modern underground system. This program is unique in Australia because of the shared funding arrangements that reflect the benefits gained by property owners, the State Government and Western Power. Property owners will gain greatly enhanced streetscapes, better and more reliable power, brighter and safer streetlights and a safer public environment. An added benefit is the demonstrated increased property value.
Why is the Local Government charging us and not Western Power?
As per of the terms and conditions of the “State Underground Power Program (SUPP) Round 6 MRP Guidelines” the Local Government is simply an administrator for the collection of funds relating to the State Underground Power Program (SUPP) for the Public Utilities Office (PUO) and Western Power.
The City is required to pay Western Power the total cost of the project by the construction completion date and recoups this cost from property owners over a period of years based on the advised payment terms for property owners in that area.
Further information regarding the contribution percentage amount and other SUPP items can be found on the Public Utilities Office’s website as there have been changes to the way the SUPP program works from Round 5 to Round 6. Click here to be taken to the PUO’s website.
What Legislative right do Local Governments have to charge for UPG?
The City has the legislative powers under Section 6.38 of the Local Government Act 1995 to impose a service charge on Property Owners to meet the cost to the Local Government in the provision of a prescribed work. The service charge is adopted by absolute majority by Council as part of the annual budget process or specific Council meeting via a submission by the City.
Why is the cost different to other suburbs?
The cost for different suburbs and projects will vary depending on the unique site conditions, constraints imposed by ground conditions, and the number of properties within the nominated precinct. Recently there have been changes in Electrical Standards (Regulation 55/54b) which has had an impact on future projects and were not a factor in previous SUPP rounds. Western Power conduct an open tender process for each project and select the best contractor based on their selection model, the City has no involvement in this process.
If you wish to discuss this matter further please contact Western Power, please click here to be taken to their Underground Power website.
What are the voting requirements for the survey (PUO)?
The public consultation process is undertaken by the Public Utilities Office (PUO) and provides Property Owners with the opportunity to vote “yes” or “no” based on an indicative cost to each Property Owner. The results of the survey can only be determined on the basis of responses received as nil response cannot be inferred as a “yes” or “no” vote. Projects are deemed to have sufficient mandate to proceed when the percentage of responses in favour of the project is greater than 50%. Further information can be found on the PUO’s website, please click here or request directly to the email account listed on the PUO’s website.
Why aren't all overhead lines placed underground?
The cost to underground the transmission lines is prohibitively high when compared to normal distribution lines, and would require intrusive open trench works to complete. The undergrounding of transmission lines has been excluded from underground power projects since the inception of the State Underground Power Program (SUPP).
If you wish to discuss this further please click here and contact Western Power via their website.
Why do Local Governments pass on the cost to property owners and not pay for it out of current budget?
SUPP projects are based on a user-pays principle, where those benefitting are those required to pay a contribution. The benefits of the program are received by the State Government agencies (through upgrade of their infrastructure) and the ratepayers (through improved reliability, efficiency of services and improved property values).
Local Governments are not the asset owners and do not receive any direct benefits, and therefore do not contribute to the cost of the project (outside of contributions required for City-owned properties). Funding such activities out of current budget would place an upward pressure on rates paid by all Property Owners in the City and this would represent an unreasonable attribution of cost as the other Property Owners outside the SUPP project would not receive the benefits of electrical infrastructure being placed underground.
Could you please explain why some properties get a discount on their connection fee?
To recognise that some properties already have an underground connection from the pillar to their meter box, a connection discount is offered. There is either a 50% discount if a new pillar has to be installed or a 100% discount if a pillar exists and is connected underground to the properties meter box. The connection charge amount is outlined in a previous FAQ; please refer to that for how the amount is calculated. The property owner will still have to pay the network charge component of the project cost for that property.
Pensioner and Senior Rebates what are the conditions and timing for those?
To be eligible for a State Government Rebate on your Underground Power account you must fulfil certain criteria:
Must be an owner and occupier of the rateable property as at 1 July or earlier,
If a pensioner, either receives a pension and holds a current Pensioner Concession Card or State Concession Card,
Hold both a WA Seniors Card issued by the Department of Communities’ WA Seniors Card Centre and a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. Rebates are up to 50% of the Underground Power charges,
If a senior, hold a WA Seniors Card issued by the Department of Communities’ WA Seniors Card Centre. Seniors who meet the eligibility criteria are entitled to claim a rebate of up to $100.
The State Government rebate is only available in the first financial year in which the Underground Power debt is raised and, the account must be paid in full on or before the 30 June 2019 in order for the rebate to be claimed.
To ensure pensioners were eligible for the rebates, notices were sent out in December 2018 which allowed 6 months for payment before the 30 June 2019 deadline.
Why is the penalty interest so high?
The penalty interest rate is set as part of the annual budget process and applies to other types of rates or service charges, not just Underground Power contributions. Under section 6.51 of the Local Government Act 1995 the City may under specific circumstances apply the annual budget interest rate. A penalty interest rate is required so the many ratepayers who pay their notices by the due dates are not disadvantaged.
Ratepayers who receive a State Government Rebate are not charged penalty interest.
Why is the connection cost lower to what is on Western Power's website?
The connection fee is based on a contribution at a reduced value, as the State Government is contributing a percentage of the cost, and there are economies of scale provided by the State Underground Power Program (SUPP) due to the number of other properties requiring connection in the scheme. This connection cost would therefore be much greater if the works were undertaken for an isolated property outside of the underground power program. The property owner will still have to pay the network charge component of the project cost for that property as the connection fee is a separate component of the project cost.
Who can I speak to if I am not happy with the UGP scheme?
Residents can choose to speak with Western Power or the Public Utilities Office to express their concerns regarding the State Underground Power Program (SUPP). If residents are not satisfied with the response(s) provided, they may also choose to contact the State Ombudsman’s office.
I have a question about the location of light poles or other electrical infrastructure, who can I speak to?
As work is about to start in your area, you will receive a work notice in your letter box. The contact details of Western Power’s contractor will be listed on the notice and Western Power advises they are the best first contact. If you are unable to contact the contractor, please click here and contact Western Power via their website.
Electrical infrastructure has to be placed in certain locations to meet Australian Standards but if you are adversely affected by certain types of electrical infrastructure please contact the advised parties early so the matter can hopefully be reviewed before any construction has happened.
What happens if I refuse to pay?
If you are having difficulty paying the required amount on your notice please contact the City early and we will work with you to arrange a payment plan that is suitable to both parties.
The City endeavours to avoid legal action wherever possible and will work with Property Owners if they are unable to pay. As with the refusal to pay your general Rates, penalty interest accrues and the City will apply the debt against the property. Where charges remain outstanding for a period of time legal action may be taken to recover those funds from the property owner. The Local Government Act 1995 outlines the actions that the City is required to take in such matters.
What are the benefits of the Local Government being involved in the project?
The City is a representative of the Property Owners in the SUPP project area and has the ability to influence the location of certain infrastructure during the initial design for the location. The City also has a representative on the committees for such matters and drives to achieve the best possible outcome for all locations within its boundaries. The City works closely with Western Power and other Government Agencies to ensure community matters are taken into account and make recommendations for improvement where possible.
I do not agree the outlined benefits justify the cost charged to property owners to underground power.
The contribution from Property Owners is defined by the benefit that is gained from the undergrounded power. Each owner will have their own view on what they consider valuable out of the provided list. A report from the Economic Regulation Authority does outline that there are clear benefits to this activity.
It is up to each individual owner to determine which of the listed benefits they consider most important to them and whether or not it justifies the charge to the Property Owner. The public survey and associated vote is your chance to express if you consider that the cost justifies the benefit to underground the electrical infrastructure.
Does the City profit from the collection of these payments?
No the City does not profit from the collection of these payments, with interest and payment plan costs representing the cost to the City, these are consistent with other SUPP projects.
At the end of the project any excess funds are required to be paid back to the payee as per the Local Government Act 1995. The apportionment is conducted using the amount paid by each Property Owner based on a weighted average approach.
How do you tell the difference between Transmission lines and Distribution lines?
Transmission lines are additional and not related to the Distribution network as they generally “fly over” a suburb at a greater height when compared to the distribution lines that service the suburb. They can be distinguished by the fact that the insulators are much bigger and the pole height is greater but much further apart.
Transmission lines form part of the major grid that transfers high voltage (typically 132,000 volts) between the power generators and the major substations within the metropolitan area. As noted in a previous FAQ these are not placed underground due to the prohibitively high cost to do so and extensive technical requirements for safely placing them underground.
Distribution lines are the lower height network that carries the medium (11,000 volts) and low voltage (230 volts) lines that service the local area with direct overhead connection to the property. The poles are generally of a timber construction and support the street lights for the area. These are the type that are placed underground as part of a SUPP project for the suburb as they are much lower in cost to place underground when compared to transmission lines. The extent of work to underground the distribution network and the net benefit remains the same irrespective of whether transmission lines are located within the street or not.
What is the infrastructure discount/concession?
A 20% concession of the total cost for Residential Property Owners adjacent to transmission lines and poles was considered a reasonable balance between benefits received and the residual impact of the significant transmission lines and poles along Learoyd Street. Each SUPP area is assessed for such items and any items are given careful consideration.
Why has it taken so long for the project to start?
Changes in the Electrical Standards legislation (Code of Practice for Persons Working On or Near Energised Electrical Installations) and changes to design for cable alignment and primary equipment site locations resulted in revisions to the project cost. These resulting revised project cost needed to be considered and endorsed by the SUPP Steering Committee and by Council before the project could proceed which delayed the original commencement date.
The revised costs did not impact the average cost to a Property Owner of $8,000 per the original public consultation for a typical single residential property.
Why was there such a gap between communications about the project?
The public consultation survey was undertaken by the Public Utilities Office (PUO) in August 2016. The survey gave Property Owners the opportunity to vote yes or no and also provided an indicative cost to each Property Owner for their consideration plus other associated information.
The project commencement was delayed by Western Power, and the City acknowledges further updates would have been desirable during the elapsed time. The communication approach is currently being reviewed for future projects within the City with the intention to improve where possible. The City relies on Western Power for a majority of information to be communicated to the Property Owners and both parties are working together to improve this process further.
Where can I go to get more information about underground power projects as I have questions that are not covered above?