Air­con rule key to power sav­ing


SOUTH Aus­tralian busi­nesses and house­holds can only reap the full ben­e­fits of turn­ing off their air­con­di­tion­ers dur­ing scorch­ing hot days if the na­tional rule­maker gets on board, the State Gov­ern­ment has warned.

SA En­ergy and Min­ing Min­is­ter Dan van Holst Pellekaan says a na­tional rule change is needed for con­sumers to ben­e­fit fully from the de­mand re­sponse mar­ket.

Un­der his pro­posal, sub­mit­ted to the Aus­tralian En­ergy Mar­ket Com­mis­sion, he says De­mand Re­sponse Ser­vice Providers should be cre­ated.

Its spruik­ers say it will pro­vide “sig­nif­i­cant” sav­ings and pri­ori­tises con­sumers over the big en­ergy re­tail­ers, but its ex­act ben­e­fits are un­known.

A sim­i­lar de­mand re­sponse pro­gram in the US state of Ne­vada spruiks that it can save cus­tomers “up to $100” off their en­ergy bill each year.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan said providers would form agree­ments with house­holds and busi­nesses about when they were happy to lessen their power us­age, and then strike a deal with the en­ergy mar­ket – with the bulk of sav­ings go­ing to con­sumers.

He said that al­low­ing the new class would help con­sumers to make sub­stan­tial sav­ings by man­ag­ing their own elec­tric­ity use, rather than leav­ing it in the hands of re­tail­ers.

“If we look like we’re head­ing to a tight sup­ply time or a high price time, the DRSP would ne­go­ti­ate with the grid and say they’ve got a chunk of cus­tomers will­ing to switch off, and those cus­tomers would then get paid a large share of the sav­ings to the grid,” he said.

Mr Van Holst Pellekaan said it would pair well with the State Gov­ern­ment’s de­mand re­sponse tri­als, which will pro­vide data about how much the providers could save house­holds and busi­nesses.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan has won un­ex­pected back­ers in the left-lean­ing think tank the Aus­tralia In­sti­tute and the To­tal En­vi­ron­ment Cen­tre. Aus­tralia In­sti­tute spokesman Dan Cass said that Mr van Holst Pellekaan had sided with con­sumers over the big en­ergy re­tail­ers, who had pro­posed their own rule, which would not al­low third-party providers to deal di­rectly with con­sumers.

“Of­fer­ing de­mand re­sponse is an ef­fec­tive way to lower the cost of power bills, which is good for fam­i­lies as well as small and big busi­nesses across the coun­try,” he said.

“The big en­ergy re­tail­ers have had free reign for far too long and, as a re­sult, they’ve driven the cost of elec­tric­ity through the roof.”

SAV­ING: Con­sumers could earn money from switch­ing off.

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