Utility merger costs jobs | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Utility merger costs jobs

Sally J. Taylor

Non-union employees of Sierra Pacific Resources’ Tahoe district will have to reapply to the company even though the number of positions is not expected to change with the $2.5 million merger with Nevada Power Co.

Of the 69 employees in the district, which includes both north and south Lake Tahoe plus the Portola area, nine non-union employees have until Aug. 9 to chose between re-applying to the utility company or accepting a severance package. The same number of jobs will remain available but an administrative-assistant position was eliminated and one team-leader position created in the district.

“Most (Tahoe district) employees are represented by bargaining units (and not affected),” said Karl Walquist, corporate communications for Sierra Pacific. “These are operating jobs and the people really need to be out there.”

The impact is greater in other areas covered by the two utilities.

Sierra Pacific and Nevada Power Co. officials announced on Tuesday that it would eliminate 300 non-union jobs, mostly among technical, management, professional and administrative workers. By eliminating duplicate positions, the merged company expects to save $300 million over the next decade.

A hiring freeze was imposed in April when the merger was announced.

Employees in non-union positions will have until Aug. 9 to accept a severance package that includes pay and medical benefits or to reapply for up to three different positions of those that remain.

Even though the same number of jobs will be available in the Tahoe district, nine non-union employees will have to make that choice. One North Shore employee already accepted severance.

“Overall, the effect on the Lake Tahoe service area is going to be small,” said Walquist who is among the Reno-area employees to reapply. “There isn’t any major change planned for Lake Tahoe. The same people who are out in the field now will be there.”

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