Western Power  cuts more costs
Big job: Western Power is replacing and upgrading power poles. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

Western Power has again trimmed its operating costs while upping the rate of power pole reinforcements and replacements as chief executive Paul Italiano continues his bid to slim down the utility.

Western Power replaced 12,921 wood poles in the six months to December 30, up 65 per cent on the same period a year ago, and reinforced 30,800 poles, up 87 per cent.

The performance came as the utility also improved its workplace safety standards, recording 0.3 lost time injuries per million hours worked, down from 0.8 a year ago and more than 2.5 five years ago.

In its half-year results presentation, Western Power cut $16.1 million, or 5.5 per cent, from its operating costs compared with the first half of 2012-13.

Western Power believes it is on target to deliver operating expenditure savings of $353 million over the five years of its current access arrangement with the Economic Regulation Authority, which regulates Western Power's revenue.

The company recorded a small but bigger first-half net profit after tax of $82.4 million, up 21.1 per cent year-on-year.

But the utility's massive investment in reinforcing the network continues to contribute to growing State debt. Western Power's borrowings rose 11 per cent to $6.525 billion.

Western Power has reduced its executive from nine to seven, cut its senior leadership team from 47 to 26 and slashed the number of area managers from 171 to 111 under changes to its operating model that emphasise efficiency and aim to reduce overheads.

"While we continue to focus on the fundamental areas of our business, I am confident that we remain on track to deliver further performance improvements," Mr Italiano said.

"Even with our widespread progress, the network will continue to need increasing levels of investment to improve the safety of power lines and poles and deliver transmission line upgrades to maintain customer reliability."

The West Australian

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