Essential Energy says it has no plans to close their Dubbo warehouse, despite comments made by Shadow Energy Minister Adam Searle.
A media release from Mr Searle and Dubbo Regional councillor Stephen Lawrence on Monday morning said the six staff employed at the warehouse had reportedly been told it would be closed in four weeks time, and the employees had been advised their jobs would be lost.
However, Essential Energy’s general manager network services Luke Jenner has refuted the claims.
“Warehouse employees and unions have been advised that Essential Energy is considering changes to its warehousing operations to maximise operational and cost efficiencies,” Mr Jenner said.
“As part of its continuous program to deliver greater efficiencies while maintaining reliability and service levels for customers, Essential Energy has undergone an independent logistical optimisation review of its warehouse operations.
“As an outcome, Essential Energy is assessing options including re-purposing its Dubbo warehouse as a centralised storage hub for state-wide critical equipment, spares and maintenance, and expanding the existing warehouse facilities at Wagga Wagga and Grafton.”
Mr Jenner said a detailed feasibility was expected to be completed within six weeks to identify the best option.
Member for Dubbo Troy Grant has also said the Essential Energy warehouse in Dubbo was not closing.
“It is not being closed. What is being discussed with employees is how they are going to use the warehouse in the future, how it's going to be modelled and how's it going to be operated. So it's not closing,” Mr Grant said.
"I have been given an assurance that they are not closing as Stephen Lawrence alleges they are."
Cr Lawrence said at the moment there was always an Essential Energy warehouse worker on call to jump in the truck any time of the night or day.
“It is simply unacceptable that this service would be removed and replaced by staff in far off Wagga or Grafton,” he said.
Regional NSW energy customers were already worse off compared to their city counterparts, Mr Searle said.
“Blackouts in the regions are already three times longer than in the city. Now the state government and Essential Energy apparently want to continue a slash and burn approach and close an essential warehouse in centrally located Dubbo that services repairs across a large part of the state to maintain the power,” he said.
Cr Lawrence said Mr Grant needed to step in immediately and ensure the key warehouse was not closed down.
“Not just for the six workers who stand to lose their jobs, but for the people of Dubbo and western NSW who rely on these workers to get the power back on,” he said.
In 2015, Essential Energy announced it was undergoing a radical change to its workforce. It included the shutdown of its Darling Street office and a proposal to cut 35 jobs from across the Orana region, including 10 out of the then 124 employees in Dubbo.