Heat on power costs

Heat on power costs

12 June 2011

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

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

Just four people attended a public meeting at Whittlesea Bowls Club late last month to discuss an interim report by the Powerline Safety Taskforce.

The group was started in response to the Bushfires Royal Commission’s recommendations.

The taskforce report proposes using technology to detect electrical faults, replacing powerlines with underground cables and stand-alone power on remote properties so rural powerlines can be removed.

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

Regardless of whether the recommendations are adopted, power bills would go up by about $3 to improve inspection and maintenance of electricity infrastructure across the state, the report says. Taskforce member and Energy Safe Victoria deputy director Mike Ebdon said that, despite the Whittlesea meeting’s low turnout, he got valuable feedback on risky trees, the impact on farmers and concerns about power price rises.

“There are other power bill rises in the pipelines and people are looking at the carbon pricing,” he 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 that powerlines started five of Victoria’s major bushfires in February 2009.

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

Public comment is open until June 24. Details: esv.vic.gov.au.

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