Western Power sparks council outrage after plans to increase street light charge


Western Power wants to hike street lighting charges by an astronomical 44 per cent from the middle of the year in a move that has blindsided councils, who warn they will have little choice but to recoup the millions of dollars in unexpected additional costs from ratepayers.

Stirling Mayor Mark Irwin said his council – the largest by population in WA – was potentially on the hook for $2.5 million, or the equivalent of a 1.5 per cent jump in rates to cover the cost of street lighting alone.

The City of Swan has already held an emergency meeting to approve a bump in its advertised rate increase from 3.25 per cent to 3.75 per cent – representing the extra $800,000 that would be required for street lighting.

In Kwinana, the cost of street lights is poised to spike by nearly $500,000 to $1.87 million.

To cover that impost, Kwinana chief executive Wayne Jack said the southern council would be forced to either slash services or ramp up rates by 4.95 per cent rather than the already advertised 3.95 per cent.

“To say we were shocked by this is an understatement,” Mr Jack said.

“Every council is towards the end of preparing their budgets for next financial year which then determines rates and this has come out of nowhere.”

The 43.85 per cent increase to street lighting charges in 2023-24 is contained in Western Power’s proposed price list, which is with the Economic Regulation Authority – the independent regulator – for approval.

A verdict is due to be handed down within a fortnight.

The massive spike compares to a forecasted 2.81 per cent increase in the most recent McGowan Government Budget handed down last May.


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