Two-thirds of Australians support demand response

More than 64 per cent of Australians support the idea of incentivising energy users to curb their energy use, according to an independent poll.

A poll of 1421 Australians, released today by The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program, shows voters would prefer to see governments increasing energy conservation rather than building new power stations.

“Respondents were asked which they thought was a better way to plan for peak demand events,” Australia Institute strategist Dan Cass said.

“Two-thirds supported demand response, while 28 per cent supported building new grid infrastructure and power stations.

“This polling shows the public understands demand response is cheaper and faster and are supportive of the technology.

“There’s a real eagerness from Australians to make money by generating, storing and trading electricity.

“What is needed are smart regulations that would unleash huge benefits to the stability, efficiency of the grid, and lower prices to boot.”

Four in five voters said they would be interested in participating in demand response schemes, with 85 per cent willing to turn their heater down by two degrees, and 82 per cent willing to switch off appliances not in use.

Demand response can deliver security faster and cheaper than building new power stations and more efficiently than prolonging the life of aging plants like Liddell,” Mr Cass said.

The poll comes after the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) this week announced its $35.7 million demand response trial would deliver 200MW to manage extreme peaks.

The three-year trial will involve 10 pilot projects run by eight companies across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, with at least 143MW ready this summer.

The pilot projects will involve both commercial and industrial businesses and residential households who will volunteer to be on standby to conserve energy for short periods.

ARENA chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht said the polling was a very encouraging sign that demand response would be embraced by Australians consumers.

“Demand response makes better use of our existing poles, wires and generators, reducing costs for all energy consumers,” he said.

“This polling clearly indicates that Australians support the idea of managing demand during peaks in a smart, cost-effective way that avoids the need to build new infrastructure.

“Moreover, this polling suggests many Australians are happy to adjust their energy use slightly – such as turning down their cooling or heating, or switching off appliances not in use – to ease pressure on the grid if they can reduce their energy bills.”