City of Nedlands moves forward with business case for underground power

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Nedlands Town Council will move forward with a reduced business case and public consultation to connect remaining residents to underground electricity.

Most residents already have underground electricity, but about a fifth have been waiting for decades.

Underground power would allow treetops to grow uncut to protect lines and ensure power was not cut off during storms.

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City staff initially proposed a citywide community survey and $100,000 business case, but after an amendment by Cr Andrew Mangano passed, the matter was revised to 43 $000, with only affected residents of Hollywood East and Nedlands North and West to be consulted.

The project — which would connect about 1,700 properties — would cost $28,727,374, of which the city would pay $19,978,601.

Cr Noel Youngman said nearly all elected members had campaigned to provide underground electricity and he hoped the city would commit to the project before the October election next year.

Cr Rajah Senathirajah argued that given the amount of money spent, the whole city should be consulted.

Up to half of the city’s contribution can be recovered from ratepayers who receive underground electricity.

Staff had recommended that this could be paid as a lump sum or over a period of up to 10 years, with any debt being collected when a property is sold.

But Cr Mangano’s amendment means people receiving underground electricity will have to pay back their share in four years.

“If we hang around longer, we have to borrow it longer. I understand not everyone is overwhelmed with money, but we’re talking about $5,000 over four years,” he said.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be cheap but it’s not big money. We’re not talking tens of thousands here.

Cr Ben Hodsdon said it had been a “long journey” to secure underground power.

“Every election, it comes back. Half of the money now comes from the city, whereas in the past it came from government institutions,” he said.

The business case is expected to be presented to the board in March.

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