Millions spent to replace WA power poles

Millions spent to replace WA power poles

17 September 2010

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Australia —  The West Australian government will spend $73 million to replace old power poles, less than a week after a report found pole failure had probably caused the disastrous Toodyay bushfire.

Energy Minister Peter Collier said on Friday that an extra $73.6 million would be spent on replacing more than 13,000 power poles across the southern half of WA over the next two years.

He said nearly $6 million would be spent on reinforcing a further 4500 poles in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).

This means, combined with previous commitments, nearly $200 million will be spent on Western Power’s wood pole management and bushfire mitigation programs.

Mr Collier said he was “very conscious” of the fact that more money needed to be spent on the power network.

“If anything, Toodyay just identified and probably exposed our vulnerability in terms of the above-ground network.”

Western Power had a vast number of wooden poles that had suffered from years of under-investment, Mr Collier said.

The Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) released a report on Tuesday into the 2009 Toodyay bushfire in rural WA that destroyed 38 homes and injured four residents.

FESA’s bushfire investigation report determined the fire was probably caused by power pole failure and the energised electrical conductors dropping to the ground.

The power pole in question was owned by Western Power which has continually denied any liability for the bushfire.

In August a report by EnergySafety WA also concluded that Western Power’s 34-year-old wooden power pole had fallen, causing arcing that lit dried barley stubble around the pole.

Mr Collier said it would be up to Western Power to determine which areas would benefit from the funding.

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