high voltage western power meeting

A growing number of Hills residents are confused with Western Power’s  vegetation policy and the actions of their contractor Active Tree Services.

There were a few sparks and some vigorous debate during a public forum held to discuss Western Power’s vegetation policy at the Mundaring Hub on October 4.

The public meeting was hosted by Mundaring MLA Frank Alban in response to a groundswell of confusion and frustration over Western Power’s vegetation policy.

“We’ve all woken up to the risks of fire after the Kelmscott fires of last year, but I’m concerned for pensioners who may be paying two thirds more than they need to if they’re caught out by Western Power’s contractor Active Tree Services” said Frank.

Western Power Customer Relations Manager, Gino Giudice, defended the electricity provider and explained they were now spending $35m per year on tree trimming alone. “That doesn’t include the money spent by the Shire, Main Roads, DEC or private residents and businesses.” Mr Guidice added that the power supply to the hills area had improved, “It might not be gold plated, but how much do we want to spend?”

Craig Katnich, Vegetation Manager for Western Power, explained the procedure and time frame from tree inspection and marking, 30 day notice, 7 day ‘Urgent Reminder’ notice through to the final ‘default cut’ [see timeline detail below].

Fired up property owner Kevin McKenna, unleashed some of his frustration on Mr Katnich. Mr McKenna  referred to some of the history between the two men and challenged Mr Katnich over his qualifications. “I am angry with Western Power and the hoops they’ve made me jump through, the trees they’ve wrecked and the extortionate amount of money they’ve cost me.” “I eventually took my complaint to the ombudsman and he found in my favour and against Western Power. They need looking into.”

Mr Alban suggested that residents who might anticipate a dispute with Western Power or Active Tree Services create a ‘paper trail’ by registering their issue through his office.

Mr Katnich clarified that the most a property owner could be charged for pruning is $419 per pole span – whether that was “one tree cut, or twenty.” He urged property owners to organise their own contractors for cutting, as it is widely accepted that Western Power’s contractors charged fees well above going rates.

Other residents warned of ‘scamming’ tree loppers who are aware of the pressing time frame for cutting and follow the trail of profitable pink ribbon. Mr Alban encouraged property owners with problems to call his office. I have a direct line to Western Power – and I might be able to bring a little more weight.”

Key Points:

  • Maximum fee for cutting is $419 per pole span. Whether there is one cut to one tree, or multiple cuts to multiple trees, the fee is capped.
  • Organise own quotes and engage own tree service provider.
  • For owners in dispute create a ‘Paper Trail’ by registering any issues with Frank Alban’s office.
  • Contact: frank.alban@mp.wa.gov.au      [08 9296 7699]
  • Property owners are responsible for all trees on the property.
  • Western Power will cut trees that are ‘Naturally Occurring’ [non cultivated – not cultivated] at their cost.
  • Western Power: 13 10 87 you may have to ask for Vegetation Services or Complaints
Sequence of Events:
  • 30 Day Notice
  • 7 Day Urgent Reminder
  • Default Cut

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