Builder pay for delays

Member for Morwell Russell Northe with builder Lochlin Wall at a Traralgon building site.photograph michelle slater

Member for Morwell Russell Northe with builder Lochlin Wall at a Traralgon building site.photograph michelle slater

Builders across Gippsland are forking out thousands of dollars each week in generator hire because they can't get timely power and gas connections to greenfield building sites.

The delays are also keeping homeowners out of their newly-built houses and forcing them to continue paying rent as builders cannot issue certificates of occupancy until utilities are connected.

Member for Morwell Russel Northe said homeowners and builders were being left in the cold, which he believed was due to regulatory changes in how energy retailers engaged with distributors.

He said he was initially told the delays were caused by an earlier industrial dispute between the Electrical Trades Union and SP AustNet which has since been resolved.

Mr Northe has asked the Energy Minster Lily D'Ambrosio to urgently intervene and resolve the current situation.

"Builders have to hire generators to enable them to undertake works at building sites, and further to that, customers can't move into their new homes because their electricity and gas is not connected," Mr Northe said.

"Some builders are even running extension leads into neighbouring properties and then paying these electricity bills as well has having to run noisy generators."

Moe-based builder Lochlin Wall has about 50 customers across Gippsland affected by the delays.

He said he was out of pocket $5000 a week in generator hire and associated costs and also had two generators stolen.

"The costs are stopping me from putting on new staff. I could put on another three or four carpenters," Mr Wall said.

Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said the Essential Services Commission was "investigating the cause of these setbacks and will provide urgent advice about how to best fix them."

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