New data shows public hungry for demand response

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New data from United Energy shows the public’s appetite for helping the energy grid is at an all-time high, with successful demand response initiatives easing the load on networks and generators this summer.

Following news that the NSW Government’s public call for people to reduce their energy consumption following bushfire damage to transmission lines in early January achieved a reported 200-300MW, data from Victoria distributor United Energy has revealed the booming interest in taking part in demand response.

United Energy’s program, known as Summer Saver, has activated three times so far this summer, on December 18, 20 and 30, with results showing an amazing 97 per cent participation rate – well above the previously accepted average for the program over six years between 75 per cent to 83 per cent.

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The customers, typically households, saved 8.6 MWh across the three events, at peak times on constrained parts of the local network in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and the Mornington Peninsula, which sees ballooning population over the summer period.

The program works by asking participating customers to reduce demand by taking simple measures like turning their air conditioners’ temperature up and avoiding using high energy appliances like dishwashers and washing machines. For their trouble, those customers get between $15 and $456 depending on demand reduction achieved.

The program also helps reduce risk to network outages such as fuse switch faults.

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United Energy’s network suffered a large number of fuse switch faults under heavy load in January 2018, which resulted in thousands of customers off supply. Thanks to Summer Saver, United Energy has only had to deal with a handful of fuse faults during each event window so far.

United Energy’s general manager electricity networks Mark Clarke said while the program aims to reduce electricity demand on constrained parts of the local network, rather than achieve broad MW savings, the results show Victorians are eager to join in.

“The great thing about Summer Saver is that, instead of conducting expensive upgrades to the network to accommodate just a handful of peak days, the program allows us to continue delivering a reliable power supply in an affordable way for customers,” Mr Clarke said.

The program, now in its sixth year, has rewarded a total of $535,789 to United Energy customers over this time.