ARENA-funded electricity demand response trials are helping Australians save money on power bills, last night’s ABC 7.30 Report revealed.
Under a demand response agreement, energy retailers ask their customers to reduce electricity use during peak demand times – and reward those that do. Customers lower their power bills, while also being paid by their electricity retailer.
The 7.30 Report also showed how a South Australian farmer uses demand response to increase the savings from his solar array.
Demand response trials good for Melbourne family
The program featured young Melbourne couple Bethany James and Michael Basson with their new baby.
Both are enthusiastic about demand response. According to James, it’s an opportunity to save money as well as preventing blackouts by reducing stress on the grid.
She receives a text message from retailer Powershop when a demand response period is approaching. She then gets a second message when it starts and a third after it’s finished.
Demand response offers these solar households another way to increase their already significant electricity savings.
Farmer combines demand response with solar energy
Almond farmer Drew Martin in Renmark, South Australia, has large irrigation requirements. This means a constant battle with high electricity costs.
Consequently, he built a 200 kW solar farm on his property backed up by a diesel generator. As a result his electricity bill is pegged at around $250,000 a year.
He finds demand response can increase these savings even more. When his trees have plenty of water, Martin can switch off the power during demand response events.
His solar panel array then takes over, feeding electricity back into the grid and earning him money.
The Ag Energy Taskforce shows Australian farmers have spent more than $100 million on 417 solar energy projects over the last three years. This is more than any other single sector.
Should demand response open up to competition?
Only energy retailers can currently offer demand response agreements in the National Energy Market.
However, The Australia Institute’s Dan Cass wants to see a rule change to expand this to specialist demand response providers.
Specialist providers could then compete directly with energy companies, ending their monopoly.