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Want your power lines underground? It’ll cost you…

By 3 June 2009 42

The ABC reports that ActewAGL are toying with getting homeowners to pay for the privelige of having their powerlines run underground.

    ActewAGL says putting in an underground network in Canberra’s older suburbs would cost several thousand dollars per house.

    But the move would increase the value of a home by almost 3 per cent.

    Mick Charlton from ActewAGL says that is in excess of the benefits to the company and it is seeking help from the public.

It seems to be just in the kite-flying stages right now with this line from Mick Charlton a real highlight in the annals of corporate communication:

    That’s why we’re looking at all sorts of options and hence the survey that we’re sort of planning to do. To sort of get a feel from the public of whether there’d be any interest in some contribution from the customers at all.

Sort of eh?

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42 Responses to Want your power lines underground? It’ll cost you…
#1
LlamaFrog1:15 pm, 03 Jun 09

they should try charging homeowners. just wait for the one person in the middle house of the street refuse and see what the power company does.

#2
MrPC1:29 pm, 03 Jun 09

I saw the same story in the dead tree CT this morning. I think their maths are a bit fuzzy. There will always be people who value having no power lines, but at the same time, there will always be people who don’t give a toss. Since so much of Canberra has underground utilities already, will the latter really want to pay an extra 3% when buying that first home or will the buyer’s valuation opinion remain unchanged?

I for one would rather affordable housing. And I mean genuinely affordable, not that BS $300k stuff that Stanhope was crapping on about yesterday. $300k is not affordable on a $49k APS3 salary.

#3
Tempestas1:32 pm, 03 Jun 09

It’s an interesting idea, I suspect if they lay the optic fibre to the home at the same time some cost sharing might be agreeble for some homeowners. Of course LlamaFrog highlights the biggest issue.

I’d probably do it to get rid of a pole and make the easement narrower giving me and the next owner(s) of our property more options, but if the guy next door says no it could get interesting.

#4
Thumper1:35 pm, 03 Jun 09

Charnwood has underground power.

#5
VYBerlinaV8_the_one_1:47 pm, 03 Jun 09

Out in God’s Country (Jerra) we already have underground lines. It’s really nice, especially now we are getting some decent sized trees back through the place.

#6
chewy141:47 pm, 03 Jun 09

I see some sort of levy in our future.
This is a crap idea to save ActewAGL some money, while giving very little benefit to the customer.

Tempestas said :

I’d probably do it to get rid of a pole and make the easement narrower giving me and the next owner(s) of our property more options, but if the guy next door says no it could get interesting.

It wont make the easement any smaller, and you still wouldn’t be able to build over it.

#7
mred1:51 pm, 03 Jun 09

If the power is underground, I presume they then run an underground line from the main line to your house as well?

There’s all sorts of concrete and fence lines that would have to be dug up at my place.

#8
screaming banshee1:55 pm, 03 Jun 09

MrPC said :

…will the latter really want to pay an extra 3% when buying that first home or will the buyer’s valuation opinion remain unchanged?

Interesting interpretation there. Without having done any research I would expect that the majority of overhead power lines (excluding HV of course) would be found in the older therefore inner therefore more expensive therefore NOT first home buyer territory.

As someone who has owned properties with both overhead and underground power I would certainly prefer to have my power running underground and if tossing up between two like properties I would definitely pay a little extra for the one with underground power.

mred said :

There’s all sorts of concrete and fence lines that would have to be dug up at my place.

Actually a lot can be done these days without disturbing these things.

#9
vg1:58 pm, 03 Jun 09

Overhead powerlines are so last century

#10
Tempestas2:05 pm, 03 Jun 09

chewy14 said :

It wont make the easement any smaller, and you still wouldn’t be able to build over it.

I was of the understanding that the 3m wide easements with turning capacity of 4.5m were to allow trucks to access the power pole. No power pole no large truck access to rear of property required.

It wasn’t about building over it, rather it restricting ways in which you can extend etc.

Basically if it was built prior to 1980 there is a good chance it has above ground power.

ACTEWAgl would also save a motza on needing to inspect trees etc, so cost sharing might work out well, I’m sure they could come up with a model where you could either pay an up-front amount or pay it off over time or a combo of both

#11
Chop712:18 pm, 03 Jun 09

“Charnwood has underground power” and some great uninterrupted views on the Brindys.

#12
peterh2:42 pm, 03 Jun 09

Chop71 said :

“Charnwood has underground power” and some great uninterrupted views on the Brindys.

shame about half the residents, though.

#13
p13:08 pm, 03 Jun 09

I have to say, when shopping for a house earlier in the year, under/over ground power was not something I considered at all.

#14
farnarkler3:25 pm, 03 Jun 09

Having no overhead powerlines is great for views but god help you when the connection between your house and the mainline running down the street breaks.

#15
A Noisy Noise Annoys3:41 pm, 03 Jun 09

Thumper said :

Charnwood has underground power.

It’s about the only thing they do have . . .

#16
Thoroughly Smashed3:45 pm, 03 Jun 09

Thoroughly Smashed said :

It seems to be just in the kite-flying stages right now…

That would seem to be an unsafe pursuit at this juncture.

#17
Pommy B3:55 pm, 03 Jun 09

I don’t care about underground leccy power, I’d give my left one for cable though.

It’s mad, the suburb next to ours has it, we do not!

#18
S4anta4:01 pm, 03 Jun 09

Thumper said :

Charnwood has underground power.

Thats because the locals kept pinching the power poles.

#19
cleverclogs4:17 pm, 03 Jun 09

My mother recently attempted this (converting overhead power lines in her backyard to underground) and had her backyard ruined by the contractor ACTEW used to dig the trenches. Not only did he fill in the trenches dug by the plumber who was also attempting subterranean repairs to broken pipes (thus costing my mother overtime in plumbers fees), but left her yard a dustbowl by doing various forms of bobcat burnouts all over the place.

Needless to say, there has been no response to her requests for recompense to cover the additional expenses incurred by the bobcat driver’s filling in of the wrong trenches.

ACTEW be damned.

#20
aronde5:02 pm, 03 Jun 09

Having moved from Qld the weirdest things I have found about power lines in the two houses I have lived in here are the overhead power lines running through the back yards. Our rental place even had a power pole right next to the kids cubby house! Sure it makes the street scape ‘neater’ but it was very funny when our power went out one night to see all these Actew guys jumping fences and trampling through vege patches to find the problem.

#21
Gungahlin Al5:13 pm, 03 Jun 09

Given those of us in newer areas built with underground power have already paid for that through far higher land prices, they wouldn’t want to impose any broad levy across new areas. They’d have a fight that would make the data centre/power station kerfuffle seem like a kid’s food fight.

I believe they’ve spotted up for this research to try gauge whether people would cop a targeted levy to help them cover costs of doing it, on a skinny argument that it will improve land values for owners – only if you intend selling though…

I can’t see that they’d underground in the backyard easements though – surely they’d take it out on the footpath so they get rid of the whole access issue completely? That would be part of the savings to be gained from doing it.

#22
Full Tilt5:16 pm, 03 Jun 09

I like the idea of being the only house left in the street with overhead power lines. Line comes out of the ground, tops a power poll on one side of the yard, goes across to another pole, then disappears again into the ground.

Of course I am sure the government won’t force me to pay for my bit if the houses on either side of me elect to go underground. Nope, can’t see that happening, not from a private company half-owned by the government that would be regulating the mandatoryness of this. Nope, not at all.

#23
Pickle7:37 pm, 03 Jun 09

It would seem that the 1960′s and earlier power poles are nearing their use by date,
so it sounds like a clever way of shifting the cost of replacement back to the householder by making them pay for the privilege of having underground electrickery.

Does the utilities tax apply to underground cables?

#24
monomania8:05 pm, 03 Jun 09

Pickle said :

Does the utilities tax apply to underground cables?

Well it applies to underground water and gas pipes so I suppose it does.

#25
sepi8:47 pm, 03 Jun 09

Al – the older suburbs have no footpaths – except on one side of main streets.

I wouldn’t pay for the aesthetics of underground power, but I’d pay if I had nice trees growing up under the powerlines. I once had a gorgeous crabapple tree getting up into the powerlines, and I could never bring myself to chop it down.

There are streets with the power lines out the front, like Phillip Ave and Majura Ave, and some brainiac has planted huge white gums and oak trees as street trees under the powerlines. The trees are being pruned bizarrely to avoid the powerpoles – those would be better underground for sure.

And Tempestas – next door just had a powerpole replaced, and they used tiny little machines and cherry pickers – the tiny machine drove thru a normal side gate. So it seems most people haven’t maintained a 3m easement for a truck, and ACTEW are just dealing with it.

#26
Woody Mann-Caruso9:19 pm, 03 Jun 09

I’d pay for this in a heartbeat. We’ve got a fscking Actew easement that runs the full length of the back of our block. I can’t plant trees there to screen the neighbours or the afternoon summer sun. The back fence is about 40m long so it’s not a small amount of land.

#27
TP 30009:33 pm, 03 Jun 09

I wonder if anyone has wondered how this will fix the problem of pole maintenance? As behind me place, the electricity wires share the poles with the Telstra telephone wires & TransACT fibre optic cables. Now while the TransACT cables could be combined with the electricity wires. But I suspect that Telstra won’t take up responsibility for the poles.

Although if all lines are sent underground, would I be right in saying that the electricity will be sent down the street, like what is done in most new developments. But I know that my area in North East Kambah will be done first as we had a tree fall on the lines & the pole at the end has been on a lean for quite a while.

#28
GottaLoveCanberra10:08 pm, 03 Jun 09

cleverclogs said :

My mother recently attempted this (converting overhead power lines in her backyard to underground) and had her backyard ruined by the contractor ACTEW used to dig the trenches. Not only did he fill in the trenches dug by the plumber who was also attempting subterranean repairs to broken pipes (thus costing my mother overtime in plumbers fees), but left her yard a dustbowl by doing various forms of bobcat burnouts all over the place.

Needless to say, there has been no response to her requests for recompense to cover the additional expenses incurred by the bobcat driver’s filling in of the wrong trenches.

ACTEW be damned.

They’re not allowed to leave trenches open with live cables in them.

#29
Tempestas10:10 pm, 03 Jun 09

I’m wondering if they are floating this now, as when NBN comes to town getting the older areas to meet some of the costs of re-trenching/coring to put in fibre might make their investment more viable. Perhaps if the deal is pay for power to go underground and you get a guaranteed fibre connection there might be some real short and long term benefits. Still there are lots of “If’s” and “maybe’s” to be resolved before anything actually happens.

#30
gooterz10:31 pm, 03 Jun 09

My guess is they want to lay fibre so they dont have a useless network(which they might sell off) when NBN comes in, or try to compete with it doing theirs first!

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