Power sell-off a once-in-a-generation opportunity: Mike Baird

HOUSEHOLDS throughout the Illawarra and South Coast concerned about possible increased electricity prices have been offered reassurance by NSW Premier Mike Baird. 

During his visit the Kiama electorate on Wednesday the Premier responded to public outcry regarding a proposal to sell 49 per cent of the electricity network businesses which own the poles and wires.

I am committed to do all I can to keep downward pressure on electricity prices - Premier Mike Baird

The government has proposed to sell 49 per cent of electricity providers including Endeavour Energy, which covers the Illawarra. 

Mr Baird announced on Tuesday the proposal to offer a 99-year lease on 49 per cent of the NSW electricity network, to be taken to the next state election.

Opposition Leader John Robertson has said that privatising electricity would lead to higher prices and a less reliable electricity network. 

Kiama MP Gareth Ward told Fairfax Media he would be pushing for some of the anticipated $20 billion windfall to be spent on the F6 extension and other Princes Highway works.

“The opportunity in the Illawarra is the same across the whole state; that $20 billion which comes from the long-term lease is a once in a generation opportunity,” Mr Baird said.

“We’ve identified what we want to do across the state, is we need to invest in roads in regional NSW, we need to ensure water security, we need to smash congestion in cities and we need to improve hospitals and our schools. 

“So there is a huge opportunity for this region to play a role, and there will be many announcements to come.

“You’ve seen the long-term lease of Port Kembla… That is taking old assets and turning them into new assets. 

“And it is an unprecedented opportunity for every member of this state; $20 billion, that does not come along every day.”

Mr Baird said the proposed long-term lease of the State’s electricity network businesses will be subject to strict conditions, including a guarantee on network prices and reliability for NSW households. 

“I am committed to do all I can to keep downward pressure on electricity prices,” Mr Baird said.

“Not only will this transaction allow for a once-in-a-generation investment in critical infrastructure, but it’s the best thing we can do to keep downward pressure on power prices for NSW households and businesses.”

Endeavour services the entire Illawarra and employs 373 people in Wollongong, 65 in Shellharbour and 88 on the South Coast. 

“This is actually about more jobs, not less jobs,” the Premier said. 

“There’s a huge range of investment that will come… There is an opportunity for every member of the community to see the benefits of this.”

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