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Change only in name

Wednesday, 2nd March, 2011

ESSENTIAL ENERGY: Far West Regional General Manager Guy Chick. ESSENTIAL ENERGY: Far West Regional General Manager Guy Chick.

Country Energy was yesterday rebranded as Essential Energy with the company assuring locals there would be no job losses as a result of the change.

It came as the NSW government was due to settle its $5.3 billion power assets sale and the opposition continued to call for the transaction to be delayed.

The new name is part of the NSW Government's energy reform process and as of yesterday the Country Energy retail business transfers to Origin Energy, and Country Energy's network operations continue under the new name of Essential Energy.

The name change means Essential Energy will replace Country Energy as the State-owned corporation responsible for providing essential electricity services in regional NSW and water services in Far West NSW.

Managing Director, Terri Benson, said Essential Energy represented the next chapter in the history of Australia's largest electricity network company.

"Today is about looking toward an exciting future - today Essential Energy replaces Country Energy as a leading essential service provider," Ms Benson said.

"But while our name may be changing, I want to reassure our customers that there will be no change to the network services we provide or our presence as a major regional employer ..."

As part of the change all Country Energy employees will become Essential Energy employees. Country Energy offices, customer service centres and field service centres will also continue as part of Essential Energy. Country Water will now be called Essential Water.

Far West regional general manager Guy Chick said the business would continue to deliver its five-year plan to invest almost $6 billion in maintaining and building new electricity infrastructure across the State.

"We'll continue to support and invest in more than 1,500 NSW communities - those just like Broken Hill - where we live and work," Mr Chick said.

"It might take around a year to change the name on everything but what isn't changing is our local ability to get on with the job, delivering the best service we can to our customers."

The official settlement of the NSW Government's power assets sale was due to take place yesterday, with Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell again warning the deal will lead to higher electricity prices.

A NSW upper house inquiry into the sell-off has called for the partial privatisation to be halted.

But Treasurer Eric Roozendaal has said to do so could cost the state billions of dollars in damages.

Under the deal announced last December, NSW is offloading the generation rights of Delta West and Eraring Energy, electricity retailers Energy

Australia, Integral Energy and Country Energy and power development sites.

Meanwhile, Mr O'Farrell, along with Ms Keneally, yesterday welcomed to the house a people's forum - a so-called People's Parliament - hosted by The Daily Telegraph and Sky News ahead of the state election on March 26.

He said he was delighted to see the lower house in use after the premier unexpectedly prorogued parliament just before December.

Ms Keneally has been accused of trying to stop the upper house inquiry into power sale by ending the official business of parliament.

The gathering of 93 NSW community members, including experts in the fields of law and order, health, the economy, transport and education, will spend the day discussing ideas to improve NSW. BDT/AAP

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