SUPP - general FAQs

In August 2016 the SUPP Committee advised the Town that three of the precincts submitted by the Town - Victoria Park West, Victoria Park East, and Carlisle North - had been selected to be surveyed in order to determine the level of community support for inclusion in the project. The clear majority of those who responded supported the projects proceeding, so the Town engaged Western Power to carry out the design and to provide a cost estimate.

A final project cost estimate for the three selected State Underground Power Program projects was provided to the Town in May 2019 with a plus or minus 10% contingency. 

At its November 2019 Ordinary Council Meeting, Council resolved to proceed with all three projects and determine the service charges applicable to each project area. Some of the more frequent questions are listed below and hopefully, the responses will provide the information you need at this time. To find out information about what SUPP will cost you, please visit our financial implications FAQs.

What are the benefits of underground power?

The practical, aesthetic and improved safety benefits of underground power include:

  • Improved property values by enhancement of streetscapes with the removal of ugly poles and wires thus making the area more desirable to live in.
  • Greater reliability of power supplies with almost total elimination of power supply interruptions caused by storms, trees, birds, vandalism, equipment failure and motor vehicle crashes with poles.
  • Reduction in power supply surges due to overhead line faults and consequently a reduction in surge damage to electrical appliances and equipment.
  • Better street lighting, which can help to deter crime and improve road safety.
  • Reduction in tree pruning and ugly foliage deformation that sometimes occurs to keep branches clear of overhead wires.
  • Safer environment with a reduction in hazards caused by broken wires and people pruning trees near power lines.
  • Increased tree canopy in line with goals of the Town’s Urban Forest Strategy outcomes.

What if I don’t want underground power?

The results of the survey of property owners conducted on behalf of the Public Utilities Office indicated that a representative majority of property owners are in favour of the proposal to install underground power, and for property owners to contribute to the cost of the installation.  Since Council has determined that it will proceed with the projects, it is not viable for an individual property owner to 'opt out' of the project as all overhead distribution power lines will be removed.

What were the results of the 2016 property owners' survey?

Victoria Park East

Number of residents surveyed that responded 444 
Question 2
Option 1: Pay $3,500 and get underground power
Question 2
Option 2: NOT pay $3,500 and keep overhead power
Proposal response rate 43.3%

Victoria Park West

Number of residents surveyed that responded 1,127
Question 2
Option 1: Pay $1,900 and get underground power
Question 2
Option 2: NOT pay $1,900 and keep overhead power
Proposal response rate 40.5%

Carlisle North

Number of residents surveyed that responded 411 
Question 2
Option 1: Pay $3,600 and get underground power
Question 2
Option 2: NOT pay $3,600 and keep overhead power
Proposal response rate 45.9%

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

No.  Street lighting has been 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.

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 when the street main cable has been energised. 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. This illustration shows a typical installation. Note:  The street cable (shown as “NETWORK”) will generally be only on one side of the street. 


Some additional information about pillars. Western Power requires unimpeded access to pillars - clearance of at least 500mm in all directions, unimpeded vertical access and no change to ground levels around the pillar.


Where will the green dome go?

Location of the green domes has been determined during the design process. Green domes are located in a front corner of the property, just inside the front boundary adjacent to a side boundary. Usually every second property has a green dome installed, with two adjoining properties being served by the one dome. There are two sizes of dome, the smaller size being known as a “mini-pillar” and the larger size known as a “uni-pillar.” Uni-pillars are located in approximately 10% of properties. It is necessary as part of the operational function of the network to have the larger uni-pillars at approximately 10% of pillar locations. 



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 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.

Who will be responsible for any damage to my property?

The contractor engaged to carry out the project will be responsible for rectifying any damage caused in carrying out the 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. Should you have any queries about your verge or footpath, please contact Western Power on 13 10 87.

Complaints from property owners in respect to any damage not being rectified can be directed either to the contractor directly or Western Power on 13 10 87 or the Town.  The Town will forward any complaints received to the contractor and to the contract manager, Western Power. 

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 have been connected to the underground supply and all testing and commissioning has been carried out satisfactorily. There may be a short period of time where the old street lights are not working and the new street lights are also not operational. Alternatively, there may also be a short period of overlap where both the old street lights and the new street lights are operational.

Will the roof bracket near my gutter holding the overhead wires to my house be removed?

No. The overhead wires to each property will be removed after the property is connected to the underground supply. The old brackets on properties where the overhead wires feed into the property will not be removed, for two reasons. Firstly, many of the old brackets and their mountings are decades old and removing the brackets may cause damage to the property. It is therefore left to the property owner to remove the brackets, should they wish to do so, after the underground project is completed. Secondly, many of the brackets are located on or near material containing asbestos and it is beyond the scope of the project for the contractor to be dealing with or disturbing material which may contain asbestos on private property. 

Typical roof connection bracket 


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 about four to five hours is allowed for the changeover, however, the actual outage is quite often much shorter than that. Each property owner will be notified in advance when the changeover outage is planned.

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 all the overhead wires, transmission lines and timber poles be removed?

All overhead distribution cables will be removed.  All timber power poles except those carrying transmission (high voltage) lines will be removed.  Transmission lines will not be underground as part of the State Underground Power Program.  

In previous projects, owners of properties adjacent to transmission lines have received a 50% discount on the underground power service charge. 

The location of transmission lines is shown in the map below with a dark grey line. 

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Why are the high voltage lines not being sunk?

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


What is the health impact of electronic magnetic field exposure?

Western Power and the rest of the electricity industry have followed interim guidelines for exposure to EMF developed by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Under these guidelines, the recommended magnetic field exposure limit for members of the public (24 hour exposure) is 1,000 mG.  Western Power confirmed that they operate their electricity network, including powerlines and substations, to comply with these exposure limits.  Further information regarding EMF can be obtained from Western Power.

See also:
Western Power’s SUPP FAQs and their brochure: Electric and Magnetic fields EMF Brochure(PDF, 3MB)