Broome’s historic Chinatown precinct will celebrate switching over to underground power following the completion of a Horizon Power program to replace aged overhead powerlines.

WA Energy Minister Mike Nahan visited Broome to mark the completion of the $3.6million Broome CBD Electrical Distribution Asset Replacement Program.

Under the program, Horizon Power replaced existing, old overhead power infrastructure in eight major streets in the Broome CBD with an underground power network.  Horizon Power worked closely with the Shire of Broome, which provided additional funding for reinstatement works.

Work began in August 2012 and the final changeover to underground operation was completed on April 30 this year.

More than 150 businesses and homes were directly affected by the program, including iconic buildings with cultural significance such as Matso’s Broome Brewery and Sun Picture Theatre.

“The program has not only improved the Chinatown area aesthetically, it will ensure an increased security of power supply to the cyclone-prone town,” Dr Nahan said.

“Power outages in the CBD have been a major problem in the past due to cyclones and storms regularly hitting the Broome region.

“With underground power now in place, power outages for the CBD will be reduced.”

Community engagement was a major focus of Horizon Power during the planning and execution of the program.  The team worked around significant heritage and environmental responsibilities, while respecting the overriding cultural values of the area.

“The State Government is committed to ensuring that everyone in Western Australia, regardless of where they live, has access to the safest, most reliable electricity supply possible,” Dr Nahan said.

“It gives me great satisfaction to see that through the work delivered by Horizon Power we are delivering on this commitment.

“I thank the community for their support and patience while this work took place.”

Fact File

  • Significant excavating challenges installing the underground power in Chinatown had to be overcome due to the high water table.  Daily tides at Cable Beach can reach 9m
  • The north-west WA coastline between Broome and Exmouth is the most cyclone-prone region of the entire Australian coastline
  • Sun Pictures in the Chinatown precinct of Broome is the oldest outdoor picture theatre in the world.  It was established in 1916

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