Staff working at Sackville’s NB Power operating centre will soon be relocated to Moncton, a move that troubles the town’s Mayor Bob Berry.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” said Berry after hearing the news of the upcoming closure of the Sackville site, which is located on Milton Lane.
Berry worries about the loss of service to the region, possibly resulting in lengthier power outages.
“It’s a service we’ve had in our town, we’ve had quick access . . .but now if there’s a major outage, they’ll have to come from Moncton or Bouctouche.”
But NB Power representatives insist there will be no change in the level of service for the Sackville area.
“Shediac and Sackville will remain well-covered and well-protected like every other area of the province,” said Sherry Thomson, NB Power’s vice-president responsible for customer service.
NB Power announced last week that, as of June 1, staff at the Sackville and Shediac locations will be moved to Moncton and Bouctouche in a bid to cut costs and to improve the productivity of the power crews assigned to customers in the region.
No employees will lose their jobs as a result of the relocation. The utility also plans to keep two service trucks in both Shediac and Sackville to respond to emergency power outages, with those technicians working out of their homes.
Thomson said the decision to relocate staff was made after an extensive province-wide review of NB Power’s operations.
“The goal is to save time and money by relocating staff to centres that are closer to the majority of their work.”
Many of the Sackville and Shediac workers already travel back and forth to Moncton several times a week to fill the work orders in that region, according to NB Power.
“The staff relocations are born out of a need to be more efficient and reduce overall expenses in the utility,” said Gaëtan Thomas, president and chief executive officer of NB Power.
The buildings in Sackville and Shediac will eventually be put up for sale and NB Power will also save operational costs on everything from snow clearing, to power, to heat and property taxes.
Tantramar MLA Mike Olscamp said he is pleased to see NB Power is being run more like a business organization and is looking at efficiencies within the system.
“I applaud that they’re bringing that body under control,” he said.
Olscamp said although it’s always a concern when services are diminished in an area, he is confident that NB Power will still have a presence in the region, with a service truck available at any time.
He also praised the fact that no jobs are being cut.
“It could’ve been worse,” he said. “They’re not downsizing the crew . . . and I don’t expect the service to be reduced.”
But the mayor isn’t quite as convinced that this is a good move.
“I think it’s just another step in regionalization . . . it’s just another thing they’ve taken away,” said Berry, pointing to the loss of Sackville’s Department of Natural Resources office in 2010 and last year’s cut to local VIA rail services