A MAJOR overhaul of electricity distribution in New South Wales could increase employment opportunities in Grafton, according to the State Government.
The restructure will deliver more than $400 million in cost and efficiency savings over four years by merging three electricity distribution businesses, Ausgrid, Endeavour and Essential Energy, into a single state-owned corporation.
It is anticipated that the current combined workforce of 13,000 across the three distribution networks will be reduced by up to 780 jobs over four years, according to Energy Minister Chris Hartcher.
But the changes also provide the opportunity to support new regional jobs with investment in apprenticeships, cadetships and regional network operations.
"It is anticipated that more than 120 existing positions will be relocated from metropolitan to regional NSW by the end of 2014 with a focus on regional centres including Grafton.
"There are no plans to close administrative centres, facilities or depots in regional areas. Nor are there any plans to cut frontline staff or services," Mr Hatcher said.
Areas like Port Macquarie that have sizeable administration and management facilities will incur significant job losses through the changes, according to a spokesman for the Electrical Trades Union.
The changes were made without any community or union consultation the spokesman said.
The cost savings will be passed on to energy users with the introduction of a new Family Energy Rebate of $75 from 2012, rising to $150 by 2014.
Families earning up to $150,000 per annum will be eligible.
"The Low Income Household Rebate will also be increase by $15 to $215 from July 1, 2012," Mr Hartcher said.
Despite the unified structure, each distribution network will retain its existing brand name.