What are the funding models for the current projects?

The funding models for the current projects are as follows:

West Hollywood:

West Hollywood was part of a trial program of a Local Government client funded option where Western Power contribute the replacement value of the aerial network while the City and the community shared the balance of the cost.

In this case the proportions were approximately 20/40/40, however future projects may have different proportions subject to the replacement value of the existing aerial asset.

Claremont Triangle and Alfred Road (Town of Claremont Project)

Claremont Triangle and Alfred Road was also the same trial program but for the Town of Claremont and City of Nedlands properties were able to have underground power installed as they were on the fringe of the project.

Alderbury Street (Town of Cambridge Project)

Alderbury Street is a boundary road between the City of Nedlands and Town of Cambridge. The Town of Cambridge was successful with the last round of the State Underground Power Program and the City of Nedland's properties in the street consequently were required to be included in the project.

What is the City's Policy on the installation of underground power?

The City’s Underground Power Policy amended in 26 June 2018 includes the following statements:

  1. The Council supports the undergrounding of overhead power distribution that currently exists within the City of Nedlands and will both advocate to the State Government at every opportunity to achieve this and partner with relevant agencies on the planning and delivery of underground power;
  2. The City will identify strategies for the funding of the underground power installation which minimise the cost to the City and property owners;
  3. The City will develop a program to deliver the undergrounding of power to areas where overhead power currently exists in the shortest possible timeframe; and 
  4. The Council supports a method of equally distributing the costs for underground power projects as follows:

    • State Underground Power Project (SUPP) 50% funded by State / City and 50% funded by property owner; or

    • Local Government client funded underground power project funded by Western Power, the City and property owners with negotiated contributions.

Is the City talking to Western Power on installing underground power to the balance of the City?

Yes, the City is regularly meeting with Western Power. 

We are currently seeking confirmation that the trial projects are a success and will be supported by Western Power into the future. 

The sixth round of the State Underground Power Program is underway throughout the metropolitan area and is anticipated to be completed circa 2022/23. Should the State Government continue with the program into a seventh round, it is anticipated that the City would submit all of the remaining properties in two projects.

Mt Claremont/Floreat and East Hollywood however the earliest this could happen is 2022/23. This timeframe is included in the Long Term Financial Plan and the Five-Year Capital Works Program.

How will I be communicated with throughout the project?

The City will be distributing newsletters as the project progresses.  In addition at each phase of the project the contractors will be issuing advices as follows:

  • Property service Installation
  • Street services installation
  • Changeover to the new underground power system
  • Completion - cable installation
  • Removal of the old overhead wires and poles


How can I choose between the two options

The cost for underground power and payment methods is not the same as the rates process. As per the community consultation, there were two options for payments preferred:

There are two payment methods that are available for underground power, these are:

  • Payment method 1: Upfront by a one-off payment
  • Payment method 2: Ten-year option – approximately 4% interest which will be confirmed as this relates to interest rates applied to borrowings at the time.

The most cost-effective option for property owners is method 1 – to pay the full amount upfront.

If you deviate from the payment method chosen, the City will need to readjust the method and additional fees will apply.

In either of the methods if you chose to pay by instalments in any one year you will be applied the 5.5% (instalment interest on rates). If you are late with your repayment the City’s normal penalty provisions apply which is 11%.

Example – 1 unit residential house with no underground power assumed at a cost of $5,000. Payments under the different methods will be as follows:


How will the project proceed?

The project is going to be progressed on a zone by zone basis, please see map below:


How will this work be carried out?

Western Power’s contractor, Cable Layers Australia will deliver an installation advice notice a few days before their work commences.They will begin by locating existing underground services in preparation for trenching and horizontal drilling of verges to install the new cables. The underground power cable installation requires a combination of horizontal directional drilling and traditional trenching.

Excavation works may occur on the verge in front of your property. We will endeavour to minimise damage to footpaths, reticulation and crossovers wherever possible while keeping disruptions to a minimum. All Work excavations, extruding cables and conduits will have bunting or fencing around them to ensure the safety of local residents. Should you wish to discuss anything about the day to day activities on site then please contact the Western Power contractor in the first instance?


What is the process for installing the new underground cables

A new underground cable will be installed at each property with a new connection, going from the front boundary to the meter box. A property service installation advice will be delivered to each property a few days before. The work should only take a day or two.

The cable is installed using underground drilling technology, minimising the impact on front gardens. It usually runs from where the connection pillar is to be installed, to the nearest point of the building, up to the cavity of (or externally to) the roof space, across the ceiling, then down to the rear of the meter panel. Both ends of the cable remain unconnected until the changeover takes place.

Will the underground power go all the way to my meter box?

Yes.  The contractor carrying out the project work will install a new underground cable (private underground cable) within each property and connect it to the meter box. The property owner becomes the owner of the private underground cable from the point that it leaves the pillar and is responsible for any future repair or relocation if required. The contractor will attach an illustration showing the route of this cable inside the meter box.

Will I have to re-wire my house if I have an older house?

No.  Inspections of existing wiring within existing properties will not be carried out as part of the project.  If, during the connection process, it is observed that any existing wiring is in a dangerous or unstable condition, the property owner will be notified and a report made to the appropriate electrical safety authority.

Do I have to call in an electrician?

No.  All work connected with the project, both within the road reserve and within each private property, will be carried out by the contractor engaged to carry out the project.

Will I get a new electricity meter?

No.  Power will be supplied to the existing meter via underground cable.  Unless the meter is identified during the connection process as malfunctioning, it will not be replaced as part of the project.

Will the contractor need to access inside my property boundary as part of these works?

Access inside the boundary will be required once to install an underground cable from the boundary to the meter board, and a second time to change over the property to the new underground network.(please note if you have an existing pillar (green dome) and underground cable already installed we will still need to access your pillar for associated works.

Will I be able to access my property at all times during these works?

Yes, access will be maintained for property owners.

Will my power supply be interrupted during the project?

Yes.  There will be a short period of outage when a property is converted from overhead supply to underground supply.  Generally two to three hours is allowed for the changeover, however, the actual outage is quite often much shorter than that.  Each property owner will be notified a few in advance when the changeover outage is planned.

What will happen if my property, verge, reticulation or footpath at the front of my property is damaged as part of these works?

All street verges are video-recorded before any work commences as a complete record of original conditions. Affected verges and footpaths will be reinstated to a condition as close as possible to that which existed prior to works commencing.

Please check your reticulation once the work has been completed.  This work is being undertaken during the winter months when you may not be using your reticulation.

What if need power on constantly because of a medical condition?

Any property where a person resides who is registered as having a medical condition which necessitates constant power supply will be given special consideration when the changeover is programmed.  The affected resident or his/her carer will be contacted so that arrangements can be made to carry out the changeover without risk to the affected person’s health or welfare.

Will the entire street be closed off during these works or just the area of immediate works?

No, traffic management will be in place where work is being carried out and occupiers will be advised of any restrictions on access to their properties or street closures associated with the work.

Will the new streetlights go in the same positions as the old streetlights?

No.  Street lighting will be designed in accordance with the current Australian Standard.  In order to meet that standard, new light poles will be positioned and spaced appropriately.  Positioning of new street light poles will be determined during the design stage, taking into account the location of existing infrastructure and street trees within the road reserve.

The new lights are generally located near the edge of the roadway, more closely spaced and, where possible, placed on extensions of side boundaries and alternated to both sides of the road. The locations are often different to existing streetlights because the layout is designed to conform as closely as possible to relevant Australian Standard (AS1158).

The new lights will be erected and switched on in stages as the new circuits are energised. However, some lights that may conflict with the old overhead system cannot be erected until that system is demolished.

This project uses the latest streetlight technology. The new streetlight network will be owned by the City. The lights will be LED technology, controlled by City-operated smart controls. The smart control allows the City to monitor light function, measure energy use and dim the lights if necessary. LED streetlights have a lifespan of up to 20 years, enabling lower energy and operational costs. They are a more economic, robust and environmentally-appropriate method to light the streets in this area.


When will the old poles and wires be taken away?

This will be the very last part of the project.  The old poles and wires will be taken away after all properties in your Zone (please refer to map) have been connected to the new underground network and all testing and commissioning has been completed. 

Can I defer my underground power charge?

Ratepayers who are eligible pensioners are entitled to defer the payment of the underground pwoer 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.

Western Australian Seniors Card holders are not entitled to defer any rates or charges.

Are the amounts different if I am an eligible Pensioner or Senior?

Property owners holding the following cards are entitled to concessions:

Australian Pensioner Concession Card: if you are the holder of this card issued by either Centrelink or Veterans Affairs, and the owner and occupier of a property in the scheme you are entitled to a maximum concession of 50% of your contribution. No cap applies to pensioners.

Western Australian State Seniors Card: if you are the holder of this card and are the owner and occupier of a property in the scheme you are entitled to a maximum concession of up to 25% subject to an annual capped amount set by the Office of State Revenue for the first year of the scheme only.

Western Australian State Seniors Card and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: if you are the holder of both these cards and are the owner and occupier of a property in the scheme you are entitled to a maximum concession of up to 50%. No cap applies to pensioners.

If you are receiving a rebate on your City of Nedlands rates notice, then your pensioner and senior concession will automatically be applied to your underground power charge.

Can I change my payment method later on?

Ratepayers will not be able to change their elected payment method once the City has entered into a loan repayment program with the WA Treasury Corporation. Ratepayers can, however, pay in advance of the instalment period.

What do I do if I see suspicious behaviour?

We seek your assistance to report any suspicious behaviour, in particular if you see incidents of cable theft from the excavations in the verge.

To reduce the impact, construction processes have been modified to reduce the opportunity of cable theft and increased security patrols at night.

Please report any unusual after-hours activity to the police or Western Power. Please do not get involved with anyone you see acting suspiciously, simply report anything you see.

Please contact:

WA Police – T: 131 444 or Crime Stoppers (Free Call) – T: 1800 333 000

Western Power - T: 13 10 87 or
westernpower.com.au/underground-power-projects


Will night works be required?

Residents will be advised of any night works which may be required.  Normally work is conducted during daylight hours but the Main Roads WA may require some roads to be closed due to the traffic levels.

What is the process for installing the street services

Power cables will be installed under the verge in each street, using directional drilling to minimise any impact. A number of holes are necessary for the drilling process, cable jointing and connection of pillars to the system.

Most of the street work, including verge reinstatement, should be completed within within any one section, within 21 days. However, work may take longer when near equipment cabinets or street corners. You will be advised of any restrictions on property access or street closures.

A street services installation advice will be delivered to you a few days before this work begins.

What are connection pillars?

These will be either a green mini-pillar or slightly larger universal pillar, installed as part of the street work. Each connection pillar must be located just inside the front boundary of private property, usually in a front corner – and in every second property, wherever possible, so it can serve two properties. The locations of connection pillars are the most appropriate in terms of existing infrastructure and ease of installation.

About 10 per cent are universal pillars, which are larger because they contain circuit control equipment. System designers have determined their locations, as they are essential for managing circuitry in the area.

How will I know when the cable installation work has been completed?

After the work has finished, a completion advice (cable installation) will be delivered to you. It will confirm the work is complete in and around the property. Please check your reticulation systems where the work has been done – the contractor may not be aware damage has occurred. If there is damage, please advise the relevant contractor. Their details will be included in the completion advice.

When and how will the decommission and removal of the overhead system occur?

Once the property and street installations in each area have been completed and energised, the changeover from the existing overhead system to the new underground system will take place. You will receive a changeover advice a few days before, detailing the process.

Overhead poles and wires will be removed after all properties have been changed over. Please be aware some wires and poles need to remain longer because they are serving other streets still to be changed over.

What do I need do if repairs to my property is required?

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 begins.

You should direct any requests to the relevant contractor – they are responsible for all re-instatements and repairs and have the appropriate  resources. The various advices delivered during the project will contain contact details. You are also welcome to contact Western Power or the City of Nedlands if you are not satisfied with the contractor’s response (see contacts and further information section).

You will not be reimbursed for work done by any other party to reinstate or repair damage caused by the contractor without their prior authorisation.

Contractors reserve the right to charge for time taken to investigate complaints subsequently shown to be clearly unrelated to the underground power work.

Which powerlines will go underground?

Both High Voltage (HV) and Low Voltage (LV) distribution lines will be buried underground as part of this project. Existing HV transmission lines are not generally underground however there are none of these within the project area.

Is street lighting part of the program?

As most of the existing street lighting is located on power poles which will be removed, new street lighting will be installed in accordance with the Australian Standard (AS1158). Street light columns will be placed, where possible at the common boundary of properties. 


Who will fund the underground power project works?

The project cost is expected to be funded by the City of Nedlands property owners in the project area (anticipated 40%), the City (approximately 40%) and Western Power (approximately 20%).

What if I already have underground power in my property?

The cost to property owners has two elements being the network cost and the house service cost. The network cost is a contribution to the installation of the new underground street network and the house service cost is the cost to underground between your building and the street. Where connections are already wholly or partially underground, this charge will be discounted according to the existing type of connection.

Why do we need transformers and where will they go?

Transformers are used to reduce the voltage from the HV distribution of 11,000 volts down to 240 volts suitable for household appliance use. Generally transformers are located where they cause minimal visual disruption e.g. parks and reserves, stormwater sumps or private property side boundaries. The final location is based on design requirements and affected resident consultation.

What happens if I become a pensioner/senior during the 10-year instalment option period?

Ratepayers who become eligible pensioners during the term of the Underground Power Scheme are entitled to a proportional rebate and then the full concession, in subsequent years.

Seniors are only eligible for a full or proportional rebate in the 'first year' only. The 'first year' has been determined to be the financial year in which the underground electricity charge is raised for the first time. This is particularly important in cases where the underground electricity charge is raised over multiple years.

Ratepayers who choose to make a lump sum payment at the commencement of the scheme and subsequently become pensioners or seniors during the scheme will not be eligible to claim a rebate.

What happens if I sell my property after the scheme has been approved by Western Power?

In general, in normal practice the owner at the commencement of the scheme, is responsible for full payment of the remainder of charges irrespective of the settlement date. 

Underground electricity charges are not apportioned between the buyer and seller and the seller is required to pay the balance of charges at settlement.

It is recommended that you seek expert professional advice if you have an enquiry regarding a particular contract of sale.

Why does the cost of the power differ from the Council minutes (December 2016) to that quoted in the survey and previous written advice?

The cost to install the underground power at $14,500 quoted in the Council Report of December 2016 was based on the estimate provided by Western Power. In the past the estimates from Western Power have not been reliable so the City Administration decided to use the price previously stated in the 2014 survey at $17,000.

The City has received the final tender price from Western Power which has realised a lower individual property cost than originally envisaged.  This is because Western Power have increased their level of subsidy for the existing overhead network, there is a significant amount of existing underground house connections within the area and the tender process has been very competitive.


How has the City progressed underground power for its residents?

During October 2015, the Council considered the feasibility of completing the installation of underground power for approximately 2,200 residential allotments within the City by means of a series of borrowings, together with resident contributions, in order to install underground power to the remaining lots.

Following this, the Council at its meeting on 26 April 2016, authorised the submission of these applications for the installation of underground power to the remaining lots in response to the Underground Power Funding Program (Round 6) offered by the State Government. 

Cr Wetherall submitted a notice of motion to the September Council Meeting due to concerns that the State Underground Power Program (SUPP) funding was anticipated to be unsuccessful. As a result, the Council at its meeting on 27 September 2016, resolved to continue seeking options for the provision of underground power to the City. Since this date, the City has been meeting with representatives from Western Power to explore options outside of the funding program.

Council at its meeting on 20 December 2016, (Item 13.6) the Council accepted the quotation of $119,404 (ex-GST) from Western Power to complete the detailed design for the Hollywood area, requested a community engagement process be undertaken with the property owners in the proposed area within Hollywood, and requested a report be presented to the April 2017 meeting detailing the financial model options for the progression of the project to construction phase.

Council at its meeting on 26 April 2017, (Item 13.4), requested that the Minister for Energy be requested to change the selection criteria for SUPP's and that a solution for the installation of underground power in the City be agreed.  It also requested further investigative work in the City owning and managing the street light network.  The Council also requested a second consultation process by way of a second survey with the residents within the project area subject to the receipt of the detail design estimate (+/-10%) and Council endorsement of the financial model.