Fireproofing will see power costs soar: Labor

Reforms must be affordable

27 June 2011

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Australia –The fact that five of Victoria’s 11 major bushfires that started on Black Saturday were ignited by failed electricity equipment, mostly power lines, highlights the need for improvements to electricity safety.

However, these improvements would come at a significant cost, that is, more than $20 billion to put electricity lines underground.

The Victorian Government, while confirming its commitment to electricity safety, is now disputing reports that electricity bills could rise as much as $740 each year for the next 10 years, if the government was to implement all the recommendations of the Black Saturday royal commission.

Energy Minister Michael O’Brien says the government will wait until it receives the final report of the Powerline Bushfire Safety Taskforce in September before deciding what recommendations to accept.

Mr O’Brien says $50 million has already been committed to improving electricity safety.

Victorian taxpayers will accept the government does have to make improvements to electricity services particularly in bushfire-prone areas.

However, they will also want the government to be practical in agreeing to reforms that the state can afford.

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