Western Australian utilities firm Horizon Power has announced that it will outsource engineering work previously performed in-house to external contractors, barely weeks following the launch of a widespread retrenchment drive.

Frank Tudor, Horizon’s managing director, said the company already plans to issue a request for expressions of interest from contractors who can undertake work previously performed by the engineering and projects division.

Tudor’s announcement arrives less than a fortnight after the regional power supplier confirmed plans to reduce its staff numbers by nearly fifty percent over the next eight months.

The state-owned utility informed employees earlier this month that a total of 240 jobs will be cut as part of its retrenchment plan, with 130 positions set to be shed prior to the year’s end, and a further 110 to be the cut by the second half of 2014.

Speaking to Fairfax radio Tudor said that the retrenchments were prompted by the conclusion of the company’s billion dollar works program, pursued over the past seven years since its inception. The end of the program means a far smaller workforce will be required by Horizon in future.

While initial reports indicated that the retrenchments would focus on Horizon’s administration centre situated in the Perth suburb of Bentley, Tudor now says the workforce shake-up could see many of its engineering employees cut.

Tudor said, however that in order to reduce retrenchments the company would provide incentives to prospective contractors to retain as many of the division’s 60-strong staff as possible.

These incentives would include the opportunity to become an integral part of Horizon’s upcoming capital works plans, which according to Tudor are likely to be closer to the bottom end of an annual bracket of between $40 million and $300 million from previous years.

Horizon hopes to conclude its search for a contractor by April, so that staff transfers can be finishedby June, in tandem with the company’s overalls plans for changes to its workforce line-up.

Horizon Power is a government-owned utility that focuses on the commercial provision of power to residential, industrial and commercial clients in the state of Western Australia.

It was founded in 2006, amidst reforms to Western Australia’s power sector, and has a service area covering 2,300,000 square kilometres outside of the south-west corner of the state. Regions located within its services purview include the key mining hub of the Pilbara, as well as Kimberley, Gascoyne, Mid West and southern Goldfields.