Fungal decay and termite damage caused the wooden pole to collapse, leading to the Parkerville bushfire. Photo: EnergySafety

Private power assessment update

Since 2020, Western Power has been conducting inspections on private power poles across the state.
November 16, 2023
Andrew Williams

WESTERN Power says there are still more than 6000 private power poles to be inspected within the local government areas (LGAs) of the cities of Swan and Kalamunda, and the shires of Mundaring, Chittering, Northam, and York.

As of October 16, a Western Power spokesperson said the utility had inspected 16,050 of the 22,280 eligible private power poles across those LGAs.

Of those local government areas, the Shire of York has had the least number of inspections with just 200 of the eligible 900. According to Western Power half of those inspections resulted in defect notices being issued. However, of those notices, just two were issued 90-day replacement notices, and only one pole was issued with a 30-day replacement notice.

Of the aforementioned LGAs, the Shire of Mundaring has had the most defect notices issued at 1770 of the 5350 inspected private power poles.

According to a Western Power spokesperson, there are about 150,000 private power poles directly connected to the Western Power network across the state and, as of October 16, roughly 100,000 of these poles have been inspected since 2020.

Of the poles inspected across the state Western Power has issued 460 separate 30-day replacement required notices, and 360 separate 90-day replacement required notices.

The catalyst for the inspections goes back to the 2014 Parkerville bushfire, and the lengthy court proceedings which followed in its wake.

The bushfire destroyed 57 homes and burnt more than 390ha after a rotten and termite-riddled wooden power pole collapsed causing electrical arcing which ignited dry ground vegetation around the base of the pole.

What followed was a lengthy battle for compensation by the affected residents, which went all the way to the High Court of Australia and resulted in Western Power being found to have a duty of care in periodically inspecting the first private power pole of a property connected to the utilities network.

However, it is the responsibility of property owners to maintain and replace all private poles on their property. Echo News contacted several electrical contractors across the City of Swan and Perth Hills who said the price to replace a private power pole was between $1000 to $3000.

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