Wednesday, February 24, 2010


My local council wants to convert my suburb to underground power. To this end, they have sent out a survey and an information pack to the residents. The survey asks if I'm willing to pay them $3,800 for this underground power boon. The information pack explains why this project isn't the brainchild of a pack of insane hyenas... or at least attempts to.

This is not, apparently, a cynical attempt to force the citizenry to pay for services which should already be covered by their normal electricity bills and council rates. Of course not. This is an "opportunity". The information pack notes that "the benefits for the community outweigh the costs involved". And such benefits! Man, you've never seen such benefits!

- Greater reliability due to decreased damage from storms, car accidents, vandals, attacks by 50 foot women and disoriented crows!

- Enhanced streetscapes due to the removal of overhead wires, which it seems look worse than dog puke or leprosy!

- Reduction in power surges caused by Western Power not maintaining the lines properly, resulting in fewer home appliances that you were too cheap to buy a surge protector for blowing up!

- Improved street lighting, although what this has to do with the powerlines being underground remains a mystery!

- Less pruning of street trees into shapes that look like Picasso portraits!

- Fewer people being electrocuted while pruning trees that aren't quite street trees but are close enough to power lines to be dangerous anyway!

This last item is, admittedly, a huge benefit to the community. I can't tell you how many times my evening constitutional has been ruined by falling bodies. As you walk down the street it's just one *zzzzzt* *aaargh* *thud* after another.

Oddly enough, most of the benefits for "the community" are actually benefits for Western Power and the council... and yes, I am as agog as you are. Underground power would mean fewer faults and call outs for Western Power, and less street tree maintenance for the council. The only benefit to the homeowners, who have to pay 50% of the project cost, seems to be the warm glow we get for making life easier for the aforementioned utility and the council.

The real killer for me personally was a note in the small print that mentioned, just in passing, that people on my particular street would only have to pay about half of the $3,800 levy. Not because we're inherently nicer or more deserving, but because the plan is only placing some, not all, of our powerlines underground.

So there you go. Because my house already has underground power (as required when it was extensively renovated in the late '90s), and because I won't receive any of the other benefits of underground power, I'll only be expected to pay around $1,600.

Sweet. Merciful. Crap.

Personally I'd rather spend the $1,600 on scientific research to determine how these people have managed to survive into adulthood with no apparent sense of shame. The benefit to human knowledge would certainly outweight the costs involved.


Anonymous maxK said...

Dear Blandywise,

While I whole-heartedly disagree with ANY Council (even yours) asking for extra moulah to do what should rightfully be covered by state and local tax,
I DO agree with the point about "unsightly power lines ruining the streetscape."

My street is, thankfully, line-free, but the rest of Sydney is lousy with telephone wires!

What is this, 1982? !

At least when you come across a pair of crappy old shoes tied together and slung up hanging over the street, you know you can score some dope. least that's what I hear, anyway.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Bart said...

I'd strap them on the electric chair.

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Troy G said...

The explanation of the Council is that doesn't need a rationale. It's the doctrine of collective responsibility: let's not argue about who's to blame or who takes money from whom, let's just say we're all trying to make a better world. But for us to do that, you need to hand over your cash.

12:39 PM  

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