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Onslow community shows strong support for underground power

Onslow can soon look forward to improved power supply as the town moves towards an underground power network.

The Pilbara Underground Power Project (PUPP) is a partnership between the government of Western Australia through the Royalties for Regions program, the Pilbara Development Commission and local government (Ashburton, Karratha and Port Hedland), delivered by Horizon Power. PUPP is providing cyclone-affected North West towns with a safe and reliable power supply by replacing ageing overhead electricity infrastructure with underground networks.  The project is intended to dramatically reduce the likelihood of power outages to essential services, regional residents and businesses during and immediately following adverse weather events.

A recent community survey undertaken to gauge feedback from the Onslow community resulted in an overwhelmingly positive outcome, with 86% of private landowners who completed the survey in favour of the underground power project.   Community consultation held in November, with representatives from the Shire, Horizon Power and the Pilbara Development Commission, was an important channel for providing an overview to the town.

During the December 2016 Ordinary Meeting of Council, it was unanimously agreed that the Shire would contribute approximately $2m to the project to help bring this new infrastructure to the town. 

Shire President Kerry White says that moving to underground power is a positive step for a town that is prone to cyclones and severe tropical storms.

“Given our location and history the majority of Onslow has, over the years, been transformed to meet high cyclone standards,” said Cr White. “An underground power network is an important step in minimising the damage and disruption, ensuring everyone’s safety and well-being.”

Horizon Power Manager Pilbara Grid James Carney said South Hedland, Wedgefield and Roebourne had already been undergrounded and works were currently underway in the final suburb of Karratha.

“It’s fantastic news to be able to add Onslow to the list of towns that will be undergrounded as part of the Pilbara Underground Power Project,” Mr Carney said.  “Our teams look forward to commencing work in February/March 2017 with the project due for completion by April 2018.”

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said the project was a key part of the Pilbara Cities initiative which aims to build vibrant and sustainable communities.

“Onslow is quickly becoming the oil and gas epi-centre of Australia; with that comes more jobs and more people moving to the coastal town,” Mr Hill said.

“It is essential that all Pilbara towns have adequate core infrastructure, such as power, to support the growing population and economic activity.”

It is anticipated that works for underground power will commence in March 2017 and be completed mid-2018.

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Kylie Hartley
Manager Communications and Tourism
Shire of Ashburton
Ph:  (08) 9188 4444