Essential Energy depots in Trundle and Peak Hill will next month be among the latest casualties in the company’s ongoing cuts.
Essential Energy confirmed on Thursday they will be closing the two depots, which will take place on September 4.
But the company says the decision will not lead to job losses but will redirect staff to the Parkes and Forbes premises.
Essential Energy’s Northern Regional Manager, Mark Summers, said the depot closures and employee relocations will help them better balance and centralise the company’s resources and deliver more effective network planning and management in the region.
It will also reduce ongoing operating costs.
“To improve operational efficiencies and value to customers, Essential Energy plans to close its Trundle and Peak Hill depots and relocate the employees currently based there to the nearby Parkes, Narromine and Condobolin depots,” Mr Summers said.
“Essential Energy has consulted with affected employees and briefed unions of the plans.
“The changes will not affect network safety and will have negligible impact on power supply reliability or customer service levels.”
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) – which represents members in the electrical, energy and power industries – have voiced their concerns over the ongoing cuts at Essential Energy and their impact on regional NSW.
Representatives from ETU met with Member for Orange Philip Donato on Tuesday to raise the issue.
“He shares our concerns,” ETU assistant secretary Justin Page said.
“Currently, Trundle and Peak Hill have a local crew that is available to respond to emergencies after hours, such as when a car hits a telegraph pole, bringing down live wires or when there is a house fire,” he said.
“Essential Energy crews are required to respond to isolate power, but the time taken for this will now blow out to more than an hour due to crews needing to travel.
“Slower response times not only delay the ability of emergency services personnel to respond fully, but they also put the safety of the public at risk.”
Since 2011, the ETU said Essential Energy has closed more than 50 depots across the state, with Trundle and Peak Hill the latest to go.
Other regional areas such as Moulamein and Grenfell lost their depots in March, and a major call centre in Queanbeyan was closed in May.
More than 1400 regional jobs were axed from Essential Energy across NSW during 2015-2016, including a number from the Orange electorate.
Last November the latest news to break was a further 1600 regional Essential Energy jobs across the state are expected to go.
“Trundle and Peak Hill will receive lower levels of service as a result of the local depots closing,” Mr Page said.
“No community is being spared, meaning that consumers and workers are left worse off with reduced service levels and loss of local employment.
“When the lights go out, response times will be longer, it’s as simple as that.
“You can’t close two depots, relocate the workers and their specialist equipment to another town up to an hour away and say everything will be the same.
“It is obvious the local community will experience future delays and a reduction in service levels.”