Plans to put a cap on community energy networks is set to spark higher prices for building strata title owners, higher management fees for owners corporations and higher capital costs for building developers and investors, according to a chief executive.
The Victorian government recently proposed restrictions on community energy networks, aimed to stamp out “rouge players” in the sector, according to WINconnect CEO Tom Patsakos, who noted that doing so will “cost consumers big dollars”.
Mr Patsakos said community energy networks are transforming the industry for the better, operating as a private network for the people they serve and enabling them to buy energy from suppliers in bulk.
Furthermore, he said community energy networks are able to supply energy to strata blocks via technology that can access “value-add extras, such as solar panels, which subsidise the cost of supplying power to buildings by providing free solar energy to the community”.
This, Mr Patsakos explained, offers consumers the benefits of being “off” grid with the reliability and safety net of being connected to an external power source.
The proposed restrictions, the CEO explained, will see reduced access to renewable energy, higher prices for building strata title owners, higher management fees for owners corporations, and higher capital costs for building developers and investors.
While he acknowledged there are some “rogue players” that should be eliminated, “there have also been good players, who are serving highly satisfied apartment dwellers with a combination of excellent customer service, self-generating energy to subsidise energy bought from the grid and state-of-the-art management tools”.
“We shouldn’t be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Fixing the rogue players situation is easy. The Victorian government could simply ensure that AEMC’s recommendations are adopted in full and enforced. This would allow the benefits of community energy networks to be realised while the rogue players would be forced out,” Mr Patsakos said.
“The Victorian government has talked up self-power generation – launching a mini grid trial across Victoria whereby residents go off grid and power themselves. But in recent times, it has forgotten that a key player in the micro-grid sphere is the rise of community energy networks in the growing number of apartments.”