Letter to Western Power
from Michael Cuss

Michael Cuss
R.M.B. 122
W.A. 6326
August 23rd 2007

Western Power
Attention: Mr. Doug Aberle
GPO Box L921
W.A. 6842

Dear Doug,


This submission is not intended to deny the people of Albany an upgrading of their power supply.

HOWEVER: the line corridor selection process as it stands is a Mess and needs to be reviewed or abandoned. Those Red signs at Freeway Exits say it all, " Wrong Way, Go Back".

Fundamental issues remain unclear or have been overlooked, and a Political process has been applied to what is essentially an Engineering problem.

Western Power already control two Line corridors between Kojonup and Albany, and not one iota of Historical, Technical or Financial information has been presented to justify the need for a third one. It is doubtful whether such data exists. At the Public meetings, Landowners attending in good faith are finding that the oats on offer have already been passed through a Horse. These are People Western Power claims to be consulting for input to and assistance with the selection process. Most of them have been trained for generations to make quick, accurate and practical decisions, but are stuck for a useful response when some idiot has already disqualified most options before presenting the question. This is frustrating, insulting, and a waste of time for hundreds of Genuine People. Western Power are heading here, into a culture clash and an outcome similar to those currently being enjoyed by the Americans in Iraq.

SOME EXAMPLES of the Hi - Tech information being traded during the Consultation process:

  1. QUESTION: Why were so many (approx. 20 -25% of) Landowners not notified that their properties were directly involved?

    W.P. ANSWER: " We did our best ".

    COMMENT: Their best, as with the constitution and conduct of the selection process, falls a very long way short of adequate.

  2. QUESTION: Why not run the new powerline down one of the existing corridors?

    W.P. ANSWER: "We can't," or "We don't like to".

    COMMENT: They can. We have it verified.

  3. QUESTION: Same as (2) above.

    ANSWER: "There are towns in the way."

    COMMENT: Pardon ?? What Town/s are we talking here, Los Angeles? Any of the small settlements in question could be bypassed with imagination and a minimal corridor deviation.

The Weighting process is also flawed. At least two important factors for consideration have been omitted, and the " Reading " or summarising procedure is guaranteed to NOT produce a viable result. Full explanation available on request. Landowners understand this and are reluctant to participate because they can afterwards be told, "Well, you were consulted, and you had your say, so what is your Problem ?" Politics again. The problem is inherent in the process.

Maps on which the three optional corridors have been plotted are years out of date and in some areas are useless. On our own Property the Yellow corridor centreline passes directly over my house, is less than one hundred metres from three dams, and proceeds down the middle of a narrow strip of land which provides 70 to 80% of our productive pasture. To the West is a small orchard and the Hay River, and to the East, our shed and a major vineyard. ONE DAY with a good, experienced, practical Western Power Line Assessor and a helicopter could have prevented this, and so much other Time and Money wasting insanity. The kindest interpretation which can be applied is that the maps are sufficiently old that Planners were unaware of our existence, and the less charitable interpretation would justify several Public Guillotinings.

Ours is unlikely to be an isolated, or even a worst case. This again raises the question of why it is considered necessary to force a Third Corridor through this increasingly Populated, Intensive, Productive, Sensitive and Expensive Real Estate. In addition there are areas rugged enough to create delays, access problems and extra expense for any form of Construction. The approximate equivalent in Perth would be to run the pylons for a 220 KV Line through Perry Lakes and over Reabold Hill.

Constraints under which Western Power operate are understood. Clear guidelines provided by the Office of Energy encourage Additional Power Stations, sustainable methods of Power Generation, a reduction in Greenhouse gas emissions, and the minimising of disruption to Landowners. These factors alone support a suggestion that Western Power's responsibility for the Albany Line upgrade be reduced, that the Line upgrade be redesigned for the shorter term, and that planning commence Immediately for a power station located in the South Coastal Region.

With the prospect of oil and gas being discovered locally it is a Nonsense to be drawing large amounts of power from a coal burning system 350 Km's away, especially when Muja can't even run an airconditioner. Alice must be in Wonderland and sleeping with a coal miner.

The Office of Energy warns of the impact of adding further demand to existing Energy loads, and also that locating a High Energy user at the fringe of an Electricity Network is likely to lead to a less reliable supply for that user. Most likely, ALL users.

Heavy Industry in this region is a recent phenomenon. B.H.P. at Ravensthorpe, Grange Resources at Wellstead and the prospect of oil and gas at Bremer. The oil and gas industry will itself require Power for operation. Light industry is expanding at Mirambeena. If history is any guide, the Rabbits will attract Foxes and the snowballing combination will demand a Power Supply which greatly exceeds present projections.

Medium to longer term a ( Gas Fired ? ) Power Station located between Albany and Wellstead would insure this area against the possibility of Muja going down for any reason, up to and including Terrorism. The installation could be designed for expansion in stages as demand increases, could be supported by other, smaller Sustainable Power Generators ( wind, wave, biomass ), and all connected into the existing grid. Carefully designed, the system would comply with current wisdom on Global Warming and The Environment, and could deliver reductions in C02 emissions of around 60% when compared with coal.

The deadline set for corridor selection is based on Panic, is an arbitrary dot on the Calender and should be abandoned. Try getting it Right before getting it Fast. e.g. if Grange Resources requirement is for full stream operation in 2009, and Grange are contributing to costs, the direct route from Kojonup to Wellstead offers a shorter path, flatter terrain, reduced ecological damage, less intensive settlement and lower land values. Direct Route in this context does not necessarily mean Dead Straight Line. This combination would reduce Capital costs substantially for all parties, and shave months from the Construction time. A percentage of the savings could then be applied to fund a more rounded, flexible selection of Engineering solutions, and Architectural enhancement. Reduced Construction time? Western Power's Papers re timing differ. A statement ( Press Release? ) mentions the possible need for Grange to operate at full Production from 2009, and other documents quote 2011. Either way, considering the present shortage of Skilled labour and Fabricating capacity, coming up with an operating mine with all ancillaries plus a new 200 Km long power line is going be tight for 2011 and impossible for 2009.

Grange will require approximately 80 megawatts and Albany much less than that. A 220 KV line following the shorter, flatter, easier route directly to Wellstead, and a lighter line delivering the leftover power to Albany involves less work and will save time and expense.

If for any reason the preferred option reverts to Kojonup to Albany direct, the line should be run down one of, or parts of both the existing Corridors. Build it in your own backyard. In the case of a 220KV supply, less intrusive Line supports could be used instead of 50 metre high pylons through areas of Visual or Ecological Sensitivity, and around Towns. All factors considered, it is difficult to see how this could be more costly or more time consuming than having to break new ground.

Western Power must be as aware of all the preceding as outsiders are, so what is going on here. What IS the Real Deal? Several reasons for the need to Bully a corridor through virgin territory West of Albany Highway come to mind, all of them unpalatable and two of them bordering on treachery.

There are Seven different, recognised forms of intelligence, and nowhere is it obvious that any one of them has been properly employed in the formation of the Albany Power Line Upgrade Proposal. It is perhaps ironic that the number Seven also applies in the case of The Seven Deadly Sins. A Big Boots and No Brains approach was trialled in 1939 and abandoned in '45. Slightly Disruptive. Very Expensive. Failed. Usually Does.

The full ramifications of a Proposal as poorly constructed as this one by Western Power will not be apparent to some People. That is, until the day they find themselves at thirty thousand feet on an Aircraft which has been slung together with the same disregard for attention to detail, and the welfare of " Passengers. " And, as oblivion looms it will be pointless laying blame on individuals from the Fabrication or Maintenance crews. They " Did Their Best ".

I request, and will continue to request through other sources, a pause in proceedings and an immediate Review of the current Process.

" I stood that day among the barflies and regulars and made a vow - the kind a child makes to face things as they came so they wouldn't compound with time and become like huge ships, impossible to turn around."

(Jewel Kilcher, 1999


(Michael Cuss)

C.C.: The Hon. Alan Carpenter, Premier,
The Hon. Fran Logan MLA
The Power Ombudsman
Mr. Jason Banks, Office of Energy
The Hon. Robyn McSweeney MLA
Mr. Brendan Grylls MLA
Ms Leah O'Brien GHD
Selected Others