As NSW gears up for a period of hot weather the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has raised concerns over the NSW Electricity Network’s ability to cope in what will be forty degree days as we approach the middle of summer.
ETU Secretary Steve Butler said that cuts to staffing levels and a reduction in network investment by the NSW Government have left the network vulnerable to periods of high demand like those presented this week with extremely hot weather forecast.
“What we have brewing is the perfect storm where the Baird Government has drastically cut investment in the NSW electricity network over the past 18 months while at the same time they have sacked more than one thousand frontline electricity workers across the state.” said Steve Butler.
“When the mercury rises to levels around forty degrees and above what we see is thousands of businesses and households crank up their air conditioner which puts and enormous amount of pressure of the electricity network as the demand for power peaks.”
“In the past the electricity network has coped well during these extreme weather periods but we now hold serious concerns about the Network’s ability to cope due to cuts to investment and massive staff reductions.” said Mr Butler.
“In the past year alone Ausgrid have slashed 879 electricity workers while Endeavour Energy has cut 155 staff and regional network operator Essential Energy has axed more than 350 regional jobs”
“Coupled with frontline staff cuts is a reduction of almost $500 million in network investment in the past year meaning the network we had twelve months ago is expected to cope with the demands of today.”
“The feedback from electricity workers is that the network is not in good shape and recent cuts to staff numbers and investment is having a material effect.” Mr Butler said.
“So today we are simply warning members of the public not to be surprised if the air conditioner stops working or your refrigerator is blacked out because we believe the decision of the Baird Government to cut staff numbers and slash network investment will come home to bite the general public at some time.”
“On top of these cuts, last year the NSW Government quietly reduced the amount of compensation customers can claim in the event of prolonged blackouts to a measly $80 per year but only when certain circumstances are met.”
“When your air conditioner, refrigerator and lights go out this summer remember to thank Mike Baird and his government for the deep cuts they have made to the NSW electricity sector but don’t bother emailing because your computer and internet connection will probably not be working.” Mr Butler finished.