Cheaper electricity networks could backfire

THE Strata Community Association (ACT), which represents over 100,000 ACT residents living in apartments, is urging the Legislative Assembly to “do its homework” on embedded networks before giving a draft bill the green light. 

Strata Community Association’s ACT president, Robert Craven says better information is needed to help people understand what they’re paying for.

The Strata Community Association’s ACT president, Robert Craven says a draft bill recently introduced to the ACT could allow apartment owners to bulk-buy power at a discounted rate to sell to tenants through embedded networks. But strata sector leaders are warning that the Legislative Assembly must pay close attention to how consumers are protected under embedded networks.

According to reports, embedded network use has jumped 36 per cent in the past year, and Mr Craven says alongside a change in law, apartment owners in strata communities need to be provided with the right information to help them understand how they can make potential cost savings and access schemes like government rebates.

“As a growing number of strata communities are making use of these networks, apartment owners could be unknowingly over-paying on their energy bills and over time this could add up to tens of thousands of dollars,” he says.

“Better information is needed to help people understand what they’re paying for and how they can achieve more affordable electricity costs.”

The Strata Community Association is concerned about a legal loophole causing problems nationwide, which needs to be addressed by national energy regulators before potentially leaving local residents at risk of being ripped off.

Recent findings from the New South Wales Ombudsman and Australian Energy Market Commission, highlighted a legal loophole that could allow thousands of ACT apartment and unit owners to be left without access to competitive electricity rates and government rebates.

“The average level of electricity debt has risen by around 25 per cent in the last three years so to avoid this situation worsening, we want to see the Legislative Assembly do the relevant homework on this issue,” Mr Craven says.

“Passing the bill on embedded networks could offer thousands of ACT residents the opportunity to benefit from discounted electricity prices, but decision makers in the Legislative Assembly must consult with national energy regulators to see this loophole closed before giving it the green light.”

Under the bill, strata managers would be able to set up embedded networks that provide one large contract with an electricity supplier, rather than many individual contracts.

But, without the same consumer protections offered by energy retailers, Mr Craven says he fears apartment owners could be locked into a deal that delivers very few benefits to them.

“I suggest that apartment owners worried about their energy spend should speak to their strata manager, so that the issue can be addressed in a committee meeting.”

 

 

The Strata Community Association (SCA) is the peak industry body for Body Corporate and Community Title Management in Australia. Membership includes body corporate managers, support staff, committee members and suppliers of products and services to the industry. 

Further information at stratacommunity.org.au/

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