Page 4264 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

with an approved technical code, which may contain specific requirements for protected areas. This safeguard will help to ensure the utility cannot use its powers under this section to perform any other activity that is not reasonably related to vegetation clearance.

The utility will continue to cut to minimum clearance distances, which have been in place since 2001 and which have not been increased. These distances are provided in a table in new section 41D and have been replicated from the Utility Networks (Public Safety) Regulation 2001.

I will now move on to talk about electrical infrastructure management within the network boundary. For context, the Utilities (Electricity Network Boundary Code) Determination 2013 defines the boundary between the electricity distributor’s network and a customer’s premises as “the point of attachment of an overhead service line to the customer’s building or structure”. This means that any powerlines before the point of attachment are the responsibility of the utility, whether or not they are on public land. Keeping this infrastructure in good condition is a crucial part of the utility’s bushfire mitigation measures.

New section 41G, inserted by clause 7 of the bill, reinforces that the utility is responsible for maintaining any electrical infrastructure within its network and for making sure that its assets are safe, which aligns with its existing responsibilities under the Utilities Act. This demonstrates the contrast between provisions in the bill dealing with what the utility needs to do within its own network and what it needs to do on the consumer side of the network boundary in the case of powerlines on rural private land.

New section 41H provides powers to the utility to enter and occupy land and to undertake any work required for maintaining electrical infrastructure. Recognising that sometimes private land will need to be accessed to maintain utility infrastructure, the utility is required to provide a notice to an owner of land, under section 41L, at least seven days before it starts work, stating the nature of the proposed activities and the period for which the activity is expected to be carried out.

While the utility has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that any of the infrastructure covered in the bill is safe from causing fires due to deterioration or encroaching vegetation, the way this is undertaken for rural private land is different, as these electrical assets are not within the utility’s network. For clarity, a new definition of “management operations” is inserted in new section 41J, which includes all activities the utility can undertake under the bill, such as clearing vegetation in all areas, maintaining electrical infrastructure within their network, inspecting electrical infrastructure on private land outside their network and repairing it if the owner does not do so.

This leads me to the next major amendment, which is a new provision that requires the utility to inspect electrical infrastructure outside the network boundary on rural land. New section 41I is inserted by clause 7 of the bill and requires the responsible utility to inspect electrical infrastructure outside the network boundary on rural leased land. The responsible utility is required to undertake these inspections at least every

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video