Ausgrid sale: $6 billion for regional NSW
THE $16 billion lease of the New South Wales poles and wires operator, Ausgrid, will generate $6 billion for regional areas, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said.
"It will benefit constituents in the same way as the lease of Port Botany released funds into Restart NSW which is essentially funding the new Grafton Bridge,” he said.
Mr Gulaptis said the funding allocation was still being determined, but he had submitted a number of funding requests to cabinet, including an upgrade to the Grafton Hospital.
Ausgrid distributes electricity to Sydney and Newcastle, while government-owned Essential Energy distributes for most of regional NSW.
Mr Gulaptis said members of the National Party had successfully negotiated with the state government to protect Essential Energy from privatisation.
"I don't agree generally with privatisation... especially with utilities that are required by the tax payer” he said.
"In the instance of Essential Energy as a regional provider of energy, I was concerned there'd be job losses.”
"That's why we excluded Essential Energy (from sale or lease),” Mr Gulaptis said.
"Essential Energy has the largest network in regional NSW and is not being leased.
"There has been no (negative) impact on the Clarence Electorate as a consequence of the Ausgrid lease.”
Despite non-privatisation, Essential Energy has undergone restructuring that has led to "a reduction in staff”, Mr Gulaptis said
Mr Gulaptis said the restructure was in response to assessments from the Australian Energy Regulator.
"They said operating costs were over the top and so were capital costs,” he said. "I didn't agree with that.”
He said the National Party had formally objected to the AER's decision.
In terms of electricity demand in his electorate, Mr Gulatpis said he wasn't sure "what percentage of Clarence constituents have gone off the grid but a considerable number took up the generous solar tariff subsidy.”
State members for the electorates of Ballina and Lismore in northern NSW have been asked for comment on the state sale of Ausgrid and impacts on electricity for voters.