Draft bill to allow Canberra building owners to bulk-buy power to sell to tenants
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Draft bill to allow Canberra building owners to bulk-buy power to sell to tenants

Canberrans living in apartment blocks could soon save on their power bills by bulk-buying electricity through their building owner.

Under a draft bill to be introduced in the ACT Legislative Assembly this week, landlords would be able to set up "embedded networks" where the tenants of a building have one large contract with an electricity supplier, rather than many individual contracts.

Canberrans living in apartment blocks could soon save on their power bills by bulk-buying electricity.

Canberrans living in apartment blocks could soon save on their power bills by bulk-buying electricity.Credit:Karleen Minney

As a result, tenants get their electricity at a discounted rate.

The legislation would apply anywhere there are multiple tenants within a single building, including apartment complexes, shops within a larger shopping centre, or businesses in commercial office block.

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Tenants would have their own meters, so they would only pay for what they use but still benefit from discounted electricity prices.

Greens MLA and consumer affairs minister Shane Rattenbury will bring the bill forward on Thursday.

It comes as the the Australian Energy Market Commission recommends changes to the national regulations that govern embedded networks.

In its draft report, the commission said the current regulatory framework was no longer fit for purpose and was allowing some customers to be ripped off.

It recommended better consumer protections for new and legacy embedded networks including access to dispute resolution and more disclosure about the costs, benefits and risks of the scheme.

Canberra tenants in an embedded network will have their basic customer rights protected under the Utilities ACT, a spokesman for the minister confirmed.

The government's new drink spiking laws will also be debated this week, and are likely to pass.

The legislation will close a gap in the ACT's laws and bring the territory more in line with NSW.

Meanwhile the Canberra Liberals will call for the government to explore the possibility of compensation for businesses in Mitchell who've had trade cut because of light rail construction.

Traffic detours and delays have hampered access to the suburb since last October.

A childrens' play centre suffered a loss of $85,000 last financial year, a gym lost 30 per cent of its clientele and a cafe owner said his downturn was "worse than the GFC".

The Liberals' business spokesman Andrew Wall will also call on the government to build a light rail stop at the suburb, provide extra all day parking and improve street sweeping in the area.

Liberal Aboriginal affairs spokesman James Milligan will move that the government accept responsibility for "failing" to keep the original commitment made by Jon Stanhope in 2007 to develop a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility for Indigenous Canberrans.

Their planning spokeswoman Nicole Lawder will continue to press the government on combustible cladding, as an audit continues on territory-owned buildings in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire.

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.

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