State power up for grabs

THE ‘‘for sale’’ signs will be officially slapped on the state’s electricity generators  today with state cabinet  signing off on the sale process.

The sale, which includes the Hunter’s power stations and other electricity assets, could raise up to $3billion.

But debts of the generators would need to be settled from the gross proceeds. 

The government is also facing a potential loss of $1.5billion on the Cobbora coalmine  that it will also seek to sell or lease.

Treasurer Mike Baird said the sales would still  proceed only if they were of net benefit to taxpayers.

Proceeds  would be invested in state infrastructure.

The sale process would be carried out over 2014 and 2015, with legislation enabling the privatisation having passed state Parliament earlier this year.

The government would begin with Eraring Energy and Delta West. 

The former Labor government sold  the rights to trade their output under its ‘‘gentrader’’ contracts.

The government would now offer the generators themselves  to the gentrader owners, TruEnergy and Origin Energy.

Macquarie Generation, which operates the Upper Hunter’s Bayswater and Liddell power stations, and then Delta Central Coastal, which runs Colongra and Vales Point power stations, would be offered through a competitive bidding process.

Coal- and gas-fired power station developments sites at Bayswater, Tomago and Munmorah would also be sold.

Macquarie Generation can generate about 29per cent of the state’s electricity and Delta Electricity about 28per cent.

The power stations are major employers in the region.

The government agreed earlier this year that permanent power station workers would be given a four-year job guarantee, as part of negotiations with Shooter and Fishers Party MPs.

Mr Baird said the sale would save the state about $1billion in ongoing operation and refurbishment costs, and  a further $6billion that would otherwise be needed to meet future electricity demand.

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