Powerlines safety comes at a price

Powerlines safety comes at a price

30 May 2011

published by www.whittlesea-leader.whereilive.com.au     

Australia — POWER bills are set to rise under plans to reduce the risk of catastrophic bushfires caused by powerlines.

Just four people attended a public meeting at the Whittlesea Bowls Club last Thursday to discuss an interim report by the Powerline Safety Taskforce, set up in response to the Bushfires Royal Commission’s recommendations.

The taskforce report recommends measures such as the use of technology to detect electrical faults, replacing powerlines with underground cables and stand-alone power on remote properties to allow rural powerlines to be removed.

According to the report, the average quarterly household power bill would rise $3 to $318 if just one of the measures was implemented.

Regardless of the taskforce’s recommendations, power bills would go up by about $3 to improve inspection and maintenance of electricity infrastructure across the state, the report says.

Despite the meeting’s poor attendance, Energy Safe Victoria deputy director Mike Ebdon, a member of the taskforce, said he was able to get valuable feedback on hazardous trees, the impact on farmers and concerns about power price increases.

“Obviously there are other power bill rises in the pipelines and people are looking at the carbon pricing,” Mr Ebdon said.

“But when you’re looking at a $40 billion price tag to replace powerlines we’ve found people would rather see that money go to the CFA or to improving hospitals.”

The commission found five of the major fires in February 2009 were started by powerlines.

The taskforce will release its final report on September 30 and will recommend a 10-year plan to reduce bushfire risk, including costings.

Public comment is open until June 24.

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