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Pilbara Underground Power Project

The Pilbara Underground Power Project (PUPP) is a partnership between the State Government's Royalties for Regions Pilbara Cities initiative and Local Government, delivered by Horizon Power.

The Pilbara Underground Power Project is providing cyclone affected North West towns with a safe and reliable power supply, by replacing ageing overhead electricity infrastructure with underground networks. The project is designed to dramatically reduce the likelihood of power outages to essential services, regional residents and businesses during, and immediately following, adverse weather events.

The first phase of the project involved the undergrounding of powerlines in South Hedland and Wedgefield and about 40 per cent of Karratha. At the end of 2013, the first phase of the project was completed with underground power delivered to 1422 lots in Karratha and more than 1600 lots in South Hedland and Wedgefield.

Horizon Power has now received confirmation of funding for the second phase of the project which will involve undergrounding the remaining lots in Karratha and the overhead lines in Onslow and Roebourne.

The State Government is the major financial contributor to the project through the Royalties for Regions program. Local Government has contributed 25 per cent to the project.

The scope of the project encompasses:

  • Street services - work such as installation of transformers and switchgear and energising the system post installation, from Bulk Supply Substations to Street Pillars.
  • House services - connections from the pillars to the houses and commissioning.
  • Street light erection - installation and energising of street lighting.
  • Demolition - removal of replaced assets such as transformers, overhead lines, streetlights, house services etc.
  • Interface - connection to the existing network.
  • Communications links - point-to-point communications links between the equipment and control systems, allowing greater remote control over the network.
  • Distribution voltage - upgrade of the distribution voltage in Karratha from 11kV to 22kV.
Project Partners
Department of Regional Development and Lands
Shire of Ashburton
Town of Port Hedland
City of Karratha
Pilbara Development Commission
Public Utilities Office
  • PUPP Partners


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Click on the questions below to see their corresponding answers.

Why do we need underground power?
Underground power is proven to be safer, more reliable and more aesthetically pleasing than overhead power lines. This is particularly relevant to the Pilbara given the extreme weather conditions experienced in the region. Much of the network in the Pilbara is nearing, the end of its useful life. Rather than replacing with overhead network, it is timely to install underground power.
What towns will be completed in this project?
Karratha, South Hedland, Onslow and remaining overhead network in Roebourne
Is my property suitable for the changover to underground power?
The electrical infrastructure services at all residential and commercial presmises that currently have an overhead connection will be checked to ensure they are suitable for the changeover process. If a problem is found at this time, further work to upgrade the existing installation mya be required before the changeover can occur. If a major pre-existing electrical fault is identified during the inspections, the power to the premises may be disconnected and a fault note issued to the owner or occupier. In this situation, you will be responsible for engaging the services of a licensed electrician to carry out the work requested.
Will I have to pay for the upgrade?
A. The project is funded primarily from the State Government's Royalties for Regions program. However, your local Council will be contributing 25 per cent to the project. It is normally the process that the funds are recouped from those that benefit directly from the project, therefore adding a charge to the rates is historically the way to raise these funds. However, it is up to your council to determine the method they wish to use.
Where has work started?
Work commenced in Karratha in October 2010. Works are currently progressing through Millars Well and Bulgarra. Works are also progressing in South Hedland which will also include the industrial area of Wedgefield. Works in Onslow and Karratha have not been given an exact scheduled date yet however this information will be communicated as soon as it becomes available.
What happens if you damage my yard or verge?
Skilled contractors will be engaged to carry out the works, however, occasional damage can occur. If that happens, your property will be reinstated to a standard similar to that, which was existing. The program will include photography of the existing property prior to site works commencing and again on completion of the works to verify the contractors take every care with your property.
Will you be digging up the roads?
When there is a requirement to run cable across a road, an underground directional drill will be used, as far as possible, to reduce any damage to roads.
Will my power be switched off because of the project?
Yes, there will be a requirement to turn the power off to your property at some stage of the project. Horizon Power will endeavour to plan the outage time and duration so as to cause the least possible disturbances to householders. You will however, get adequate notification of when your power will be going off, and for approximately how long.
Who do I call if I have any problems?
Horizon Power has dedicated staff that are available to answer any project related questions. For South Hedland please call (08) 9173 8281 and for Karratha please call (08) 9159 7250.
How does the work take place?
Detailed newsletters will be delivered to every household outlining the details of the project including proposed schedules, work which will be completed on your property and information on any interruptions to your power supplies.
Is it possible I could dig underground and electrocute myself?
It is important to take care when working near underground networks to avoid damage, disruption, injury and even death from accidental contact.

In areas where an underground electricity network exists make sure you:
  • Know the location of all electrical infrastructure on or near your property or work site;
  • Do a visual check for electrical infrastructure; and
  • If you plan to dig near or on the verge of your property, call 1100, Dial Before You Dig, to obtain a map of underground pipes and cables in your area. For your own safety, never interfere with electricity infrastructure and never attach or tie anything to it. In an emergency, dail 000.
How will public safety be ensured throughout the life of the project?
Horizon Power will ensure that highest level of safety is demanded of its contractors and effectively monitored. If you observe any safety risks or unsafe work practises, please notify us immediately by contacting 1800 267 926 or email
Is streetlighting a part of the program?
As most of the existing streetlighting is located on the power poles which are being removed, new streetlighting is being installed. Each Council involved in the project will approve the streetlighting design as per the Australian Standard.
What does a voltage upgrade mean to the people of Karratha?
Currently, the amount of power available in Karratha is limited to the size of the lines that carry it. When the power is put underground, the new power cables will have greater capacity, allowing for up to 1000 new residences in Karratha. This upgrade will only affect the high voltage, it won't have any impact on current properties. You will still receive your power to your house at 240 volts, meaning that you won't have to change any of your electrical equipment.
Horizon Power Access Controller & Customer Relations - Justine Franklin 0408 694 061
City of Karratha 9186 8555
Town of Port Hedland 9158 9300
Shire of Ashburton 9188 4444
Media enquiries 0428 979 283
Last updated: Thursday, 24 July 2014 11:04 AM