Origin, AGL call for national energy scheme  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

The Australian has an article on utilities AGL and Origin calling for dynamic pricing of power in order to send energy consumers price signals which will make smart meters useful - Call for national energy scheme.

AGL Energy and Origin Energy have called for a national energy saving scheme to slash the costs they face to comply with fragmented state-based schemes. The nation's two biggest energy retailers have also renewed calls for an end to government control of retail power prices.

The companies have told a review, ordered by the Ministerial Council on Energy in response to increasing demand for power, that they are being saddled with compliance costs because of the lack of a national energy efficiency scheme.

Victoria, South Australia and NSW operate separate schemes that require energy and gas retailers to purchase and surrender energy efficiency certificates. In Queensland, a parliamentary committee has recommended consideration of a scheme. The schemes are expected to grow as the carbon tax is due to start next year and electricity prices are forecast to rise. ...

The review is being conducted by the Australian Energy Market Commission, which will release a discussion paper in November. It was ordered because demand for peak power -- most commonly on summer days when air-conditioning use soars -- is growing faster than normal demand, requiring multi-billion-dollar investments in energy infrastructure that is used only for a few hours a year. It is expected to propose measures to encourage users to manage their usage to reduce pressure for new spending.

But AGL and Origin argue that retail price regulation is the main barrier to more efficient electricity use as consumers are not exposed to price signals. "It is not realistic to talk about reforms to the electricity system involving new technologies (for example, smart meters) when the very value they provide cannot be extracted due to rigid pricing structures enforced through ongoing retail price regulation," AGL says.

Origin has told the review the price caps discouraged retailers from offering alternative price structures, such as time-of-use pricing, charging more for peak-time energy use. Controversy erupted in Victoria over price reforms proposed last year as part of the roll-out of smart meters, but the retailers say the meter rollout was mandatory.

Power Industry News reports that a display centre for the Newcastle Smart Grid demonstration project has been opened - Newcastle's Shopfront for Smart-Grid Technology.
The Smart Grid, Smart City Information Centre was today launched in Newcastle to engage consumers and business in new technologies that are being trialled in the region to use energy more efficiently.

The Smart Grid, Smart City project is a $100 million commitment by the Australian Government to work with industry to demonstrate and test the integration of a range of new technologies such as smart grids, smart meters, electric vehicles and ceramic fuel cells into an existing community.

The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP said the project will test the possibilities of smart grid technologies including the potential to help consumers reduce their energy use and ultimately reduce their electricity bills.

Meeting peak demand is one of the biggest pressures pushing up the cost of electricity, and smarter use of our appliances could help ease that pressure, Minister Ferguson said. … Further information on the project is available at www.ret.gov.au

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