Victoria Point shopping complex made to fork out $30,000 to have Energex conduct maintenance work

COUGH UP: A shopping centre will have to cop a $30,000 bill to help Energex upgrade some equipment.
COUGH UP: A shopping centre will have to cop a $30,000 bill to help Energex upgrade some equipment.

VICTORIA Point’s Lakeside Shopping Centre will have to pay almost $30,000 to hire a generator to keep the facility open when Energex works on a transformer on September 26.

Centre managing director Greg Bell said Energex upgraded major transformers about every 10 years and previously had not charged to have a generator in place while this work was done.

The centre had little choice but to hire a generator and staff including security to keep its 50-odd shops open for the day. To make matters worse, a $20,000 non-refundable deposit had to be paid to the hire company.

Mr Bell said Energex accrued about $250,000 a year from centre businesses through that part of power billing put down to system maintenance.

“To have them come back and not want to supply a generator seems rather unacceptable,” he said.

“I’m told Energex supplies a generator to avoid disruptions to residential areas which indicates it does not want to upset the public.”

He said the centre had offered to pay overtime for Energex staff to do the job at night but this had been refused.

An Energex spokesman said the request to do the work between 10pm and 4am impacted on fatigue measures and resource availability.

He said similar shopping complexes had arranged for their own generator to be connected directly to their switchboard in the early morning and taken off later that day.

“The current proposed time for this outage is from 6.30am to 2.30pm, however the restoration time may be much earlier if equipment does not require replacement,” he said.

Redland MP Matt McEachan said he had spoken to some of the centre’s business owners who were annoyed at Energex’s lack of service.

“At this stage it looks like they will have to cop the payment on the chin if there’s not some kind of resolution,” he said.

“But it shouldn’t come to that. A significant part of their electricity bill, I think about 40 per cent, is for routine maintenance.

“It’s wrong that businesses have to pay for a generator or close down for the day.”

Mr McEachan said the bigger picture issue was that the government was gouging profits from generators which was money that should go back into the system for issues like this.

Energex did not respond to questions about gouging or why generators were no longer supplied to customers, when and why the policy was introduced, whether it would review the situation at Victoria Point or if it applied to residential customers.

Mr McEachan said he had asked Acting Energy Minister Steven Miles to intervene but he had not responded.