DARK clouds were fitting yesterday as Tarong Power Station announced the closure of two of its generating units.
A local councillor said the closure would cost the South Burnett about $10 million each year.
There will be up to 64 voluntary redundancies from the power station, a Stanwell Corporation Limited senior management team member told staff yesterday.
Tarong Power Station site manager Dennis Franklin said the decision would also affect the operations and workforce of the adjacent Meandu Mine. A further 40 jobs will be lost from that mine.
The announcement has angered South Burnett councillor Barry Green who said any downgrading in operations would have a detrimental effect on the community, both economically and socially.
"It's not just the loss of these jobs," he said. "In Nanango, motels and pubs depend on the big shutdowns (overhauls) they have."
The Stanwell spokesman said the overhauls and mini-overhauls would continue, but not for units two and four at the power station.
Cr Green said he was also concerned about the major loss of income to the region. "The wage bill per week out of the community will be about $200,000," he said.
"(That is) $10 million per year not turned around in the South Burnett region."
The Electrical Trades Union also slammed the decision to cut jobs, warning of upward pressure on electricity prices and an increasing likelihood of blackouts.
ETU state secretary Peter Simpson said the scale of the job losses would come as a shock to many workers.
"Taking 64 mostly skilled workers (engineering, maintenance and production) out of this community will undoubtedly lead to hardship. Our blokes on the ground out there are already getting calls from members saying if they lose their job they will be gone from the area," Mr Simpson said.
"Most of these workers have families that use the local schools, hospitals and shops and this is a huge blow for the South Burnett. There is a strong feeling that (this move) is the company clearing the decks ready for a possible privatisation."
Tarong Power Station site manager Dennis Franklin said the station intended to continue contributing to the local community "for the long term".
"Whilst there are some impacts as a result of the decision, there will be many long-term benefits as the power station and mine will be well-positioned to continue to be a more viable operation well into the future," Mr Franklin said.
"We are consulting with our employees, unions and suppliers regarding the preliminary decision to restructure our workforce at TPS."
Mr Franklin said while two units would be placed in cold storage, there would still be plenty of activity at the power station and mine.
"We are currently under way on the Unit 1 overhaul, which will result in more than $1 million being pumped into the local economy," he said.
"Additionally, next year we have the Meandu Mine dragline overhaul, which will bring up to 250 contractors to the region.
"We will still need to access coal from Meandu Mine to fuel the three generating units that will remain in service."
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington met with Stanwell Corporation executives on Wednesday to discuss plans to place the two units in cold storage.
"I made it abundantly clear just how disappointed I am by Stanwell's decision to reduce its workforce," Ms Frecklington said.
"Stanwell has assured me electricity supply in the South Burnett will not be affected."
Have you lost your job? What will this mean for the region? Tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org .au.
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