Premier's electricity sell-off sale

The government's proposal to sell 49 per cent of electricity providers including Endeavour Energy - which covers the Illawarra - should set "alarm bells ringing", according to opponents of the plan.

Premier Mike 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.

However, Essential Energy, which services the bulk of rural NSW, will not be part of the deal after National MPs refused to support its inclusion.

Mr Baird said he would work to avoid price hikes.

"I am committed to do all I can to keep downward pressure on electricity prices," he 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."

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

"This is an example of asset recycling," Mr Ward said.

"People need to ask themselves, do they want to see poles and wires out the front of their home remain in public ownership or do they want to own new highways, new hospitals and new infrastructure that generates jobs?"

Adam Kerslake, campaign director from Stop the Sell Off, believes the Nationals' protection of Essential Energy is proof the move is a bad idea.

"If this is a good idea why do they have to make all these concessions?" Mr Kerslake asked.

"Why is it that some parts of the state seem to need more protection than other parts of the state? I grew up in the Illawarra and I think it needs as much protection as anywhere else for its future.

"If Essential is off the books, why is it that Endeavour should be sold? It doesn't make any sense. It's a political outcome rather than a logical outcome."

Endeavour services the entire Illawarra and Mr Kerslake said it employed 373 people in Wollongong, 65 in Shellharbour and a further 88 on the South Coast.

Mr Kerslake said he expected "massive job cuts" similar to those he said followed Premier Jeff Kennett's complete privatisation of the Victorian electricity system.

"You can expect that will happen with Endeavour right across the Illawarra - those jobs will go," he said.

Keira MP and opposition spokesman for the Illawarra Ryan Park was concerned about what the proposal would mean for Endeavour Energy employees in the Illawarra.

He said the leasing of 49 per cent of the electricity industry would mean the government would lose the yearly profits.

"My concern is there has been no discussion as to what we will do to try and solve that issue, which is significant in terms of an ongoing income to pay for vital frontline services that the community expect."


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