Western Power has dumped its bungled electricity connection scheme in the too-hard basket, with home owners and small businesses set to suffer as a result, according to Master Electricians Australia (MEA).
MEA WA State Manager Anthony Mancini said Western Power had failed to offer any new accreditation training to contractors since August last year, after it was forced to update its procedures following damning audit recommendations. “This blanket rejection of any new Contractor Connect training in the last eight months is now beginning to jeopardise the entire electricity connection process,” Mr Mancini said. Local contractors will not have enough accredited staff to complete power connections.
The responsibility for new connections will fall entirely to Western Power to complete connections, resulting in delays – Western Power line persons will be unable to cope with demand when new housing connection volumes rise. Their inability to create a new training scheme for Contractor Connect and their failure to provide a date for its recommencement has left many business owners in WA suspended with major work demand issues and unable to engage new operatives.
“Many contractors have also dropped off the scheme as the new audit requirements have become too onerous, and the connection process has fallen back to Western Power. Contractors had previously connected up to 70% of all installations resulting in consumers having immediate power however as they drop off the schemes connection delays will result.
Mr Mancini said he was disappointed in Western Power for failing to listen and to work with industry to enhance the schemes, thus delivering workable solutions. He said MEA had raised its concerns over the scheme with Western Power, and despite promises that industry would be consulted over any re-development of the Contractor Connect scheme, to date no consultation has occurred.
“Western Power has failed to recognise the valuable contribution that electrical contractors have made to the connection process and has treated them with disdain,” he said.
“It is becoming too time consuming and uneconomical for small businesses and subcontractors to remain on the schemes. Not being able to have new staff trained to connect and relocate meters also makes it very difficult to perform the work volumes that they are committed to. Feedback from members in WA has showed this issue has taken a huge financial toll on their businesses and they are being backed into a corner”.