Power trial plugged
Experts want power-saving techniques pushed nationwide.
Australia's renewable energy agency, ARENA, has put funds towards a series of trials to test the potential of ‘demand response’ in the national electricity market.
Participants in demand response scheme receive a message from their energy company that asks them to cut their usage at peak times.
They are offered a reduction on their bills, cash credits and other incentives for participating.
The Australia Institute's Dan Cass says the ARENA demand response trial has been a huge success.
He says a rule change would allow specialist demand response providers to compete in the wholesale market.
Current rules mean only energy retailers can offer demand response.
“Let's open it up as a market option. So let's unleash competition with demand response competing against generation ... to lower prices for all consumers,” Mr Cass told the ABC.
“Few people realise we pay a lot for electricity during the heat waves of summer.
“Generally, wholesale energy is about $100 a megawatt hour. During summer, it goes up to $14,500 a megawatt hour, and we all pay for that.”
The Australian Energy Council - representing major energy companies - says changing market rules would be complex and expensive.
“We don't see that there is any need for demand response to be delivered by anyone other than retailers and their customers,” Energy Council chief executive Sarah McNamara said.
“That direct contractual relationship has worked very well ...We see no reason to break up that relationship by introducing more parties into the demand response market.
“We believe that in the coming years, we will be able to continue to expand demand response. And that's very good news for consumers. And it's good news for our electricity system.”
Mr Cass says big energy companies do not want more competition.
“They know it means competition, and competition means lower profits. It's that simple. It will benefit their consumers if we get this reform, and they are standing in the way,” he said.