Charges laid against Western Power for Wickepin bushfire

Trees burn in raging bushfire (wickepin)
Image: Shutterstock

Western Australian energy safety regulator Building and Energy has completed its investigation into the Wickepin-Narrogin bushfire, which occurred on February 6, 2022.

The fire started when state-owned utility Western Power’s power line conductors of a particular length and construction clashed, causing ignition of the dry grass below.

Related article: Powerline project targets bushfire safety

Building and Energy has now commenced proceedings against Western Power for alleged breaches of the Electricity (Network Safety) Regulations 2015.

The legislation requires network operators to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that their network is designed, constructed, operated and maintained so as to ensure that it is safe.

The case has been listed for mention in Narrogin Magistrates Court on August 22, 2023.

A Western Power spokesperson said, “Western Power is committed to ensuring the safety of the community and reliability of our network. Safety for the community and our employees is fundamental.

“Western Power provided the Director of Energy Safety with a plan to reduce the risk posed by power lines in its network of a similar construction to the one that caused the Wickepin incident.

“With the matter of the Wickepin bushfire now before Court, it is inappropriate to provide further information at this stage.

Related article: Western Power fined over injuries to line worker

“In the lead up to the upcoming bushfire season, Western Power has implemented a range of measures to minimise fire risk and associated impacts.

“In addition to our annual maintenance program, over the last 12 months Western Power has invested in significant network upgrades in regional towns and surrounding area assets, as well as vegetation management in preparation for summer conditions.”

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