Underground Power

Since 1996, WALGA has worked with Western Power and the State Government to improve the reliability of electricity supply through replacing the overhead electricity distribution network with underground cables.  Over 100,000 properties have been converted to underground power through programs that are popular with Local Governments.

The benefits of underground power include:

  • More reliable and better-quality power supply, particularly during storms
  • Greater public safety, with improved streetlighting and less opportunity for contact with live powerlines or collisions with poles
  • Improved street appearance and the opportunity to increase street tree canopy
  • Reduced need for street tree pruning
  • Lower life-cycle costs for the network
  • Supporting use of new technologies including solar panels and electric vehicles

Details of current and planned projects, along with responses to FAQs are provided by Western Power and Energy Policy WA.   

Recognising the need to evolve the successful State Underground Power Program, the Association revised the existing underground power advocacy position in July 2022.

Targeted Underground Power

The Targeted Underground Power Program (TUPP) aims to maximise Western Power’s contribution to project costs by targeting network assets most in need of replacement. This is broadly consistent with the underground power advocacy position adopted by WALGA in December 2020.

WALGA represents the Local Government sector, working with Western Power, Energy Policy WA, and Treasury, to deliver the Targeted Underground Power Program. The TUPP Guidelines can be found here.

The cost of undergrounding is shared between the State Government, Western Power, and property owners through their Local Government. The State Government's financial contribution is tiered, based on socio-economic indicators.

Western Power identifies potential areas to receive underground power, prioritising locations with a high proportion of assets that will need replacement in the short to medium term. Local Governments act on behalf of property owners and decide whether to participate in the program based on Council policy, the cost to property owners, and the level of community support.

For Local Governments

A Reference Group comprising representatives from Local Governments involved in underground power programs:

  • Identifies matters that require resolution through the TUPP Steering Committee
  • Provides input to template agreements and project documents
  • Builds expertise and shares learning, particularly in relation to cost recovery, project management and community engagement

Is my area switching to underground power?

Western Power identifies areas where significant electricity distribution assets are reaching the end of their useful life and require replacement or significant maintenance in order to operate safely and reliably.  This provides an opportunity to convert the overhead network to underground in a more cost effective way.  The Network Renewal Map provides an indication of areas in the Perth and Peel Regions likely to be considered for underground power in the short, medium and long term. Conversion to underground will only occur when it is identified as being widely beneficial to the community. This map will be updated from time to time, including new information about the condition of the network.

View indicative map of the network renewal underground program.

Retrospective Underground Power

Local Governments can apply to have underground power installed in suburbs and areas not included in the Western Power network driven list of priority projects (TUPP). These projects would be primarily funded by property owners in the project area, with a contribution from Western Power.

Vegetation Management Near Live Powerlines

The Code of Practice for Personnel Electrical Safety for Vegetation Control Work Near Live Power Lines was published in August 1996 in order to protect workers and the public when vegetation control work near live power lines was carried out.

Objective of the Code

The objective of this Code is to establish the principles applicable to safe vegetation management work near live overhead lines for various classes of persons.

It specifies the minimum standards required for mobile plant, tools and equipment used in vegetation management work near live overhead power lines and provides the basic technical material necessary for service providers to develop work procedures, related training and awareness programs.

 The Code provides electrical safety information to be used, in addition to other occupational safety and health requirements, to enable workers to:

  • Assess whether it is safe to carry out pruning, cutting, maintaining or trimming vegetation near power lines
  • Prune, cut, maintain or trim vegetation in a manner that is safe for themselves, other workers and the general public; and
  • Comply with Regulation 316A  

Related Information

Code of Practice: Vegetation Management near Live Power Lines

Back to of the page