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South Australia should dump diesel plan and think smarter

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South Australia is being urged to rethink its plan to install up to 200MW of diesel power around the state, and think of smarter solutions on the other side of the supply-demand equation – as would be befitting of a state forward thinking enough to lead the world on renewable energy.

The Labor government’s recently released energy supply plan included six main initiatives, mostly notably the 100MW/100MWh of battery storage, which is eliciting huge interest, and most controversially a planned $360 million investment in a new gas peaking plant.

Any such plant is unlikely to be built in time for the next summer’s peaks, so the government has said it is looking to install temporary diesel generators to ensure sufficient supply – at a high cost of installation and of fuel use, if ever they are switched on.

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Diesel generators used by Tasmania during its 2016 power crisis

It may be debatable whether the government will still need this, given that the second unit at the Pelican Point gas-fired generator has been brought out of mothballs after Origin Energy decided to supply it with some gas and take the output, and as more solar farms with battery storage are proposed to be built.

But the biggest change in thinking at state level may have come through discussions with Audrey Zibelman, the new CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator, who met with energy minister Tom Koutsantonis and premier Jay Weatherill earlier this week.

The forthright Zibelman is understood to have shared her thoughts about using demand response – signing up large energy users to agree to be dispatched to voluntarily curtail some load at critical times, and get paid to do so.

As we noted the other day in this profile of Zibelman, who headed New York’s ambitious Reforming the Energy Vision program, she wants to bring some of that thinking to Australia and focus on the demand side of the equation, rather than the usual Australian response of just over-loading supply.

Indeed, in the vast PJM market, some 12,000MW of demand response is contracted each year to help meet demand peaks and is dispatched by the system operator to maintain system security on peak demand days.

They choose to do this rather than build new gas peaking plants, which might only be used a few hours a year, and be incredibly expensive to build and to switch on.

“You don’t have to invest in generation that you are only going to use a few hours a year, because you can use the load itself as a balancing resource,” Zibelman said this week.

“It is that signal that says (to peaking power plants): ‘Hey there, we don’t really need you,” that’s going to help moderate prices. It’s pure economics applying to them and making demand a much more active portion of the grid.”

One of the companies proposing such an option is EnerNOC, the largest demand-response aggregator in the world.

EnerNOC says it could source a 100MW “virtual power plant” in South Australia by December, by signing up commercial and industrial users to agree to reduce non-essential load when dispatched by AEMO or the SA government.

The company’s head in the Asia-Pacific, Jeff Renaud, says that can be done at a much lower cost than diesel generators. In effect, he says, it will be smarter, cleaner, and cheaper. AEMO and the government can guarantee that it will show up exactly when and where it’s needed.

The current process of involuntary load-shedding, where the market operator would intervene to switch off supply to some customers if it cannot source enough generation during the afternoon system peak (as occurred on 8 February in South Australia), is not voluntary and is indiscriminate. And affected customers get no financial reward.

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Image: Enernoc

“Demand response is an elegant solution. By creating voluntary measures, and a virtual power plant, we can protect those customers who don’t want to be cut off. It turns the load shedding paradigm on its head,” Renaud told RenewEconomy.

Demand response exists in Western Australia, and most other grids in developed economies, but has limited opportunities in the main National Electricity Market.

“Relative to global peer markets, the NEM has exceedingly low levels of demand response participation in its wholesale markets,” EnerNoc noted in its submission to the Finkel Review. “However, this can be rectified with relatively simple improvements to the NEM’s market design.”

Such suggestions have been hitherto rejected by the Australian Energy Market Commission, which sets the rules, after fierce lobbying from the fossil fuel industry.

They said it would cost too much – just as they fought against the carbon price, the renewable energy target, energy efficiency measures and now changes to the settlements period which might even level the playing field for another smart technology, battery storage. But they are really seeking to protect their revenues.

Renaud says even though the rules are not in place in the NEM, the South Australia government could put in place a one-off scheme to protect against any load shedding this summer. Then it could encourage more widespread use in Australia, as Zibelman advocated.

We could create a temporary market – it would have significant economic benefits and environmental benefits,” Renaud says.

EnerNOC believes 100 MW of demand response would cost the South Australian government significantly less than 100 MW of rented diesel generators, and is hopeful that the government consider proposals from demand-side aggregators like EnerNOC during their procurement process.

And as an extra incentive, the money spent by the state would go directly to local South Australian businesses, reducing their energy bills rather than adding to them – and rather than paying money to out of state diesel generator rental companies.

“Demand response is a means to some money back into local industry. That means it is money more intelligently spent.”

Renaud says that based on the amount of demand response in the US PJM market, there could be potential for around 200MW of dispatchable demand in South Australia.

Taiwan, for instance, which only narrowly avoided blackouts last northern summer, is contracting 200MW of demand response to ensure it can meet demand needs this coming summer.

Renaud is also hopeful that the push for demand response is echoed in the Finkel review. It will allow for more efficient markets, help to depress high price intervals, and utilise existing assets to contribute to energy security.

And he echoed his company’s support for a change to the 30-minute settlement rule to 5-minute, to help quick  response mechanisms such as demand management and battery storage over gas and diesel.  

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  • Brian Tehan

    It’s just a no brainer, surely. I worked in data communications for many years. In early years, we just cranked up the bandwidth to handle peaks. Then down the track we used quality of service to prioritise and, even de-prioritise traffic, so as not to have to pay ever larger amounts to handle the odd peak or high bandwidth traffic that’s not urgent. There are many parallels with the power network but the thinking and controls are decades behind. Of course, if we spend enough money and charge enough, we could handle almost any peak but that’s not effective use of resources. We also have to make sure that we have enough on tap to handle a pre-defined percentile of the demand. There are many large users who could scale back for a financial benefit under peak loads.

    • Chris Fraser

      Yes including those who have stored energy at their own premises. Energy storers could perhaps get a generally better tariff than others if they are prepared to limit their power rating. RE touches on demand-side solutions occasionally.

      • humanitarian solar

        When you say, “RE touches on demand-side solutions occasionally” are you referring to the grid giving a signal for companies to limit demand at particular times like the article or using behind the meter solutions like load management? I like load management because it makes me feel more empowered, I take responsibility rather than somebody else telling me to because they are in the shit, and it suits me to manage my power around the solar day anyway. Some inverters even have seperate AC circuits, and seperate DC circuits, which can be programmed to switch on loads by staggering them throughout the day. For example, my electrician staggers his bosses solar system to clean his pool, water his garden, heat his cement slab, before he gets home. To do this he just connects each AC circuit to a specific output on the inverter and using the software to program when each turns on.

  • humanitarian solar

    “The forthright Zibelman is understood to have shared her thoughts about using demand response – signing up large energy users to agree to be dispatched to voluntarily curtail some load at critical times, and get paid to do so.”

    Aren’t these big companies already on demand tariffs?

    • Ian

      Look I stand to be corrected but demand tariffs are related to planned energy requirements. The design of the poles and wires and the draw on the generators in normal circumstances. Demand response is a signal from the grid in times of grid inadequacy to the company to curtail their load , they don’t necessarily agree to this altruistically, but are paid to shut down load.

      The challange is to convert all these aspects of energy supply to the large consumer to the small consumer and of course to do the same for the distributed generator vs the utility scale generator. Some customers might like a simple electricity tariff whilst others might like to participate in a more complex way in an energy marketplace. Looking at Reposit’s sit up, they may be starting to provide a platform for their customers , in a limited way, to participate in this energy marketplace. Why you would need a third party like Reposit to trade energy , when the grid retailer are not doing their jobs as energy brokers is the added complexity. In the future maybe one of these intermediaries between household and grid will be needed to broker energy transactions and not the two . If the existing retailers don’t wake up , the likes of Reposit or Enphase will take over this brokerage function.

      • humanitarian solar

        With being Kodakcised or IBM’ed, we need to remember we are talking about power being short for air con when the sun is shining. It’s hardy an important long term concern shaping markets. Caring about poor people means charging according to use, not being grateful for big users winding back their use. Any responsible person would look to upstream proactive measures like load management, well ahead of having to be told like a child to shut down some of their load, break their workflow and potentially send workers home early. How about we place more energy into the social justice part of market design, by designing so distributed generation and storage is primarily about distributed responsibility, instead of continuously falling back on centralised controls and giving our personal responsibility away. The kind of world your arguing for is a little offensive. It must surely be a desperation, where you see few other options. There’s plenty if you read my other posts. We’ve all agreed renewable energy is cheaper behind the meter anyway, and for the installer and big installs, load management is central. The size of the wires and everything else is what determines the cost of the distribution system and it should be primarily taken into account.

        • Mike Shurtleff

          All good but I don’t think it’s that black and white. I think you are both right and both approaches are needed. Grid operators would benefit from having some reliable load curtailment in the case of an emergency. That should include large company users and aggregated demand response from smaller customers. Your voluntary approach works better for more day to day load leveling.

          ..of course it’s clear Australian utilities (gentailers) and their supposed overseers have been gaming the system for their own profit. That’s a bigger problem. I’m glad to see it is being addressed now. …just to be clear.

          • humanitarian solar

            An analogy is how much we want “our” phones and computers having their CPU tied up with external tasks rather than tasks we set the device? Demand Response (DR) potentially opens a dangerous path for humanity to be exploited. If you look at other fields, humanity already has their devices increasingly being used for purposes manufacturers think beneficial to them. Your beginning to wish your own human rights away. Perhaps it’s because you haven’t thought through the consequences or don’t understand that giving consent to manufacturers to control your home, may be difficult for you to get that control back? Do you really want to create a world where external entities are taking increasing control of citizens paid for devices?

          • Ian

            Domestic tariffs in the past have already factored in demand response. Previously there was tariff 11 always on but carried a premium price and tariff 33 which was an economy tariff and subject to power being switched off.

            A company like Reposit aggregates its customer’s energy exports and then bids into the generator market to take advantage of the high price opportunities and takes their cut out of any ‘profit’.

            Maybe they can use the same technology to bid into the demand response market, when load needs to be shed to balance a poor supply situation. People who are willing to switch off their electricity use to help the load shedding requirement could then benefit from the ‘demand response payments’ . It’s just an idea.

            Reposit are filling a void that exists between mini-generators and access to the wholesale market, precisely because the usual energy brokers -the energy retailers – do not provide this service. Distributed energy generators need to maximise their income from exported energy and they need a level playing field compared with the large utilities, this is not being done. Reposit has seen this opportunity and positioned themselves to supply this need. If they are successful, certainly on the export side of household energy, ( and maybe on the demand response market) then they can start to ask the question. ‘Why tolerate the retailer as a middle man, why not provide the whole retail service and in addition give the customer energy broking access to the wholesale market?’

            That’s the thing, energy retailers charge what they like and the only service they provide is billing and (dumb) connection to the grid. See Greg Hudson’s response to my comment earlier about his experience with Red Energy. Energy retailers who do not try find savings and value for their customers will be usurped and sidelined by companies that do.

          • Ian

            Here’s a scenario for you, humanitarian. There are multiple distributed generators with battery storage as well as utility scale solar, wind, hydro and FF generators. There are also numerous consumers of electricity big and small they are all connected together by a grid of poles and wires etc. The poles and wires cannot store electricity. What ever enters the conduit must be balanced with what comes out of it. Sound complex? Well how do you balance the input and the output and fairly compensate those generating electricity and give the lowest cost energy to those that consume it, and make sure this is all very reliable?

            My guess is that the task is a little more complex than just having rudimentary equipment like solar panels, inverter, batteries, meterbox, and grid poles and wires. You probably need some computing power, some advocates dealing with other generators and then a body of legislation and governing bodies to make sure everything runs smoothly and fairly.

            Like it or not we may have to give the management function of our solar panels and batteries to a energy brokerage company, like Reposit, if we want to maximise our return on investment. Whether the loss of independence and autonomy is worth it remains to be seen. Ideally solar and storage will be so cheap that we won’t need to worry about a grid connection at all, or if we did, we wouldn’t care if excess was deposited into the grid for next to nothing

          • humanitarian solar

            The inverter/charger “is” the computer controlled power management system your looking for. Even on your property, it will accurately match it’s kW output to the load. It will do this as long as it has renewable inputs keeping it’s battery charged sufficiently. If your local inverter/charger runs out of renewable energy and battery charge or it’s peak power output is insufficient to meet a high kW load, then it will source power (through it’s external AC input) from the next larger grid/inverter/storage it is part of – whether that is solar thermal or hydro or whatever. So there will be storage nested in storage nested in storage. So there’s really no problem at all. Between the inverters renewable inputs, it’s battery, it’s onsite load management and ability to back itself up from a larger grid, everything is taken care of. If your interested in an inverter/charger with lots of options for onsite load management and many features for managing a grid, check out this link to Selectronics gear. Even at the micro level, engineers have solved all the problems.
            http://www.selectronic.com.au

          • humanitarian solar

            What I think is happening, is the people doing demand management don’t understand how the new equipment works because they are either old fossil fuel network managers or software programmers or just marketing people wanting to make a buck from a new market. Though really, there’s no need. It’s best to align ourselves with new paradigm engineers who really understand the system. Even though I’m not an emotional fan follower of Tesla, you will see they NEVER speak of demand management. It’s not a real issue. SA will solve theirs as soon as this first round of their storage is added.

          • humanitarian solar

            It will be too tempting to place the market before people. I predict Reposit will begin with voluntary market signals and then inevitably wish to design the hardware and software of our inverters so it’s centrally controlled. The risk for human rights abuse is too great. They are already overestimating the value of storage aggregation because battery inverters accurately match supply and demand in milliseconds.

      • humanitarian solar

        What’s shining through is your own subjectivity, because no renter would ever suggest big users or home owners should get a reward for moderating extravagant usage. No policy should ever be enacted which effects the poorest of the poor.

  • humanitarian solar

    The problem I see with “demand-side aggregators”, is it introduces another level of complexity and is a reactive downstream approach, effecting those businesses, rather than getting them to moderate their demand with more upstream approaches – like getting their own renewable energy or storage, and only sourcing a deficit from the grid slowly, or during off peak timeframes. This could be incentivised by merely introducing demand tariffs and smart meters.

    • Brian Tehan

      The demand side isn’t necessarily complex and, if a business makes a decision that they’re happy to reduce consumption for a lower power price or a bonus, that’s a business decision. Getting business to invest in their own efficiency measures or renewables is a parallel approach – also a business decision – but, at this point, one that many Australian businesses seem to be blind to. For example, I can’t believe that it took taxpayer subsidies for Bunnings to invest in energy efficient lighting. The ROI should have been enough.

      • humanitarian solar

        I’m not prepared to subsidise high energy users to wind back their peak usage and then feel grateful.

        • Mike Shurtleff

          You make a good point. Can you organize that in some fashion to guarantee high levels of peak demand will not occur during heat waves?

          • humanitarian solar

            I think demand tariffs would be most cost reflective, representing the size of the cable to the premises etc. All it needs is the introduction of a smart meter and then it can take effect. It encourages the most personal responsibility, by companies thinking about their load management which they can address in a variety of ways by:
            a) energy efficiency,
            b) staggering any discretionary loads throughout the day,
            c) installing wind and/or solar to clip the load during the day,
            d) installing storage to draw power from the grid when the load is low and add it back to the grid’s input when the load is high. Inverters can already be programmed to do all these strategies automatically.

          • Mike Shurtleff

            Good information! Thank you! Agree with what you’ve written. Not completely clear to me what you are saying about handling the problem of electricity over-demand emergencies. Utilities have to have a way to handle worst case situations too.
            Your smart meter with utility control, via Inet, cellphone, or other, of distributed volunteer Demand Reduction (aggregated DR) using the rewarded cutback measures you mention, seems like it might work well.

        • wideEyedPupil

          It’s important that the system isn’t gamed in that way. Rules need to be smartly written.

      • Mike Shurtleff

        This approach has the advantage that curtailment amounts are locked in ahead of time. Changing rate structure to make high demand more expensive leaves rate of use, amount of demand, nebulous.

    • wideEyedPupil

      One of the advantages of getting busniesses to investigate participating in DSM is they often examine their EE and assumptions around needs more carefully. During the Gas crisis in WA Alinta realised for the first time ever they didn’t need to keep so many pots hot all the time and so saving a fortune during the gas crisis they keep the ‘reduced production’ regime full time going forward.

  • Mark Diesendorf

    Agreed that contracted demand reduction is potentially the cheapest and fastest means of cutting
    peak demands, but we can’t be certain that 100 MW could be contracted by December. Surely SA needs a broad mix of measures to avoid blackouts next summer? This mix could include temporary diesels (leased) and open-cycle gas turbines (peakers) as well as batteries and contracted demand reduction. It’s incorrect to claim that OCGTs and diesels are ‘incredibly expensive’. With capital cost of around $800/kW in both cases, they are the cheapest types of dispatchable power station that could be installed before summer. And if they are only operated for infrequent brief periods (2-3 hours at a time), their annual fuel cost will be low too. Both types can operate on diesel, so gas supply won’t be a problem. They can help buy time for concentrated solar thermal with thermal storage to be built over 2-3 years. If blackouts occur next summer, renewable energy will be blamed, however unjustly.

    • Mark Roest

      Why can’t you? The company that does that for a living says they can. Why use a broad mix of measures when batteries get rid of fossil fuels and in sufficient number, get the job done?
      Regarding “With capital cost of around $800/kW in both cases, they are the cheapest types of dispatchable power station that could be installed before summer.” Didn’t you read about Elon Musk promising to install 100MW of battery storage for $250/kWh within 100 days or it’s free? At that rate, he could install 320MWh for what you think the cost of 100MWh is.

      • Mark Diesendorf

        Mark Roest, you are confusing kW (power capacity) with kWh (energy), like comparing apples with shoes.

        • Mike Shurtleff

          IIRC Musk promised 100kWh/100kW so 1 hour at full rate, full power output, to be installed in 100 days.

          • Mark Roest

            Thank you, Mike. I should have paid more attention to that.
            Tesla offered battery capacity (kWh) which can be delivered at a one-hour rate of the same number of kW. That’s good technology. It also validates my analysis, in debunking the statement by Diesendorf.

            It’s best not to try to distract from climate change and the damage to the coral being way more than enough reason to end the use of fossil fuels in the next 15 years. It’s also best not to use old numbers in the attempt to do so. The price numbers have been and will continue to fall like a stone, while the performance numbers continue to climb like a rocket.

          • Mike Shurtleff

            Very welcome.
            Yes, I very much doubt any diesel gen is required. Real problem with NG backup was stupid rules and resulting failure to have NG ready to do it’s backup job.

            Clearly available curtailment of load (DR), battery backup, and change of regulator rules, so that NG backup is available when needed can solve most of those problems. Gee Wiz Australia might be moving into 21st century power system finally. We in the USA will be following you again after we dump the USA version of Tony Abbott. Maybe Trump won’t make some of Abbott’s mistakes. We’ll see.

            I’m rolling on the floor laughing that the outcome of this utility enabled NG price gouging was the serious (and obvious) consideration of large scale Battery Storage and Demand Response (DR). Too funny. Sorry fossil fuel weasels this has been coming for a long time. Could it be the Australian Federal Government has finally gotten the message that renewables are better, lower-cost, and actually more reliable?

      • Gary Rowbottom

        Battery storage isn’t generation. It takes say 115 MWh from the grid at low demand times and gives back 100 MWh at a different time.

        • Mark Roest

          Battery storage is a buffer in a physical system, which accumulates over time and discharges on demand. The National Renewable Energy Labs found that six hours of storage is the sweet spot for solar energy for load shifts and deferring equipment upgrades or expansions. By adding some solar and lots of storage above average demand, the system can accumulate surplus energy over a period of several days, and then provide it when needed. This is far less expensive that a gas peaker, and it does not pollute. It’s an entirely different way of seeing and thinking than the fossil fuel paradigm.

          • Gary Rowbottom

            Granted, but so does concentrating solar thermal with storage, which don’t take power from the grid to charge it’s storage. Not against batteries in the least but believe there is a place for CST and storage in the mix too. That place happens to be Port Augusta to start with!

          • Mark Roest

            Concentrating solar thermal, with thermal storage, is analogous to solar pv with battery storage; same logic, and very similar availability. The latter can avoid taking power from the grid, too, as long as you provide enough battery storage plus solar.
            I like concentrating solar thermal, actually, and suggest that the power tower makers, and the people who make the supports for the mirrors, check out http://www.CaptiveColumn.com and consider using it to make them. I worked with the inventor starting in 1975, and am working with his family to commercialize it. Plenty of tests were done — actually many more than are shown on the website. I’m happy to work with people who want to do it.

  • Ian Mclaughlin

    I agree that we should not use diesel OR gas but the State Government is being blamed for the state of the NEM and could loose the next election because of voters ignorance of the facts. They must avoid further problems so they have no choice given the time scales involved. The Opposition is still complaining about the closure of Port Augusta coal fired generators which happened because of market forces which THEY believe in, unless, of course, they see political gain in complete lies.

    • Ian

      Not complete lies, half-truths these are far more effective!

    • wideEyedPupil

      Also if they buy multi-fuel open cycle turbines they can run them on bio-fuel in the near future if they develop that industry for backup purposes.

  • Ian

    Reposit, take note: demand response: signing up large scale users to be dispatched to voluntary curtailment- and get paid for it. Why not small scale users? Reposit aggregates small solar/storage customers to bid into the wholesale supply equation , why not offer to utilise the demand response market? Why should big businesses get all the gravy?

    This article does raise a good point. What cost is acceptable for reliability? The first 30% reliability costs cents per KWH the last 10% dollars per KWH and the last 0.1% thousands of dollars per KWH. A suburban household can easily survive without electricity for a day or longer. A supermarket for a couple of hours, a data centre or hospital would not even rely on the grid for reliability but have their own emergency measures. Why should consumers who have low reliability needs subsidise fussy companies and customers that demand very high reliability? Why should $14000/KWH events be subsidised by consumers that would be happy with a simple 5c/KWH wholesale price and a few blackouts now and again? How much of our tariff is spent on reliability we do not really need? Should struggling Mum’s and Dad’s pay for the reliability demanded by aluminium refineries or big banks?

    • Greg Hudson

      ”A suburban household can easily survive without electricity for a day or longer”
      What a pile of horse shit. You try turning off the power in your own home for a day or two and see what your wife says when all the food in the freezer needs to be replaced, or the kids can’t do their homework because the internet is down, or anyone wants to watch TV, your aircon (heating and cooling) doesn’t work, etc etc. You are living in a dreamland if you think that this is acceptable.

      • Ian

        Anger is at least an emotion, and emotion’s a great motivator, you must have read my whole post, thank you. Of course there was a bit of rhetoric, to make a point. We have some of the highest tariffs in the world, and dare I say it, that’s the cost of ensuringyou have hospital ICU or data centre reliability. In the past, one size fits all, holiday homes and banks could enjoy the same reliability. Then came the advent of air-conditioning, Huge demands were placed on the grid for a few days of the year. Our grid and utilities bravely met this demand with heroic gold-plating and large standby gas generators, some given huge capacity payments just to ensure this mission-critical supply to PlasmaTV’s, and air-conditioners. Even now some bidding events reach into the $14 thousand/MWH range

        Should those with less fussy demand aspirations like those who have their own battery storage have to pay for those who want always on power? Where’s the fairness there?

        Reliability needs to be costed and offered as a separate fee or tariff so those that want to carry the risk of a blackout or disconnection for a lower tariff can do so and those that prefer your demand for reliability can do so too but at a premium tariff.

        • Greg Hudson

          ”We have some of the highest tariffs in the world, and dare I say it, that’s the cost of ensuringyou have hospital ICU or data centre reliability.”
          More bullshit from you I’m afraid. Most if not all hospitals and data centers would probably have their own backup generators (and probably multiple redundancies), which make your ‘reliability’ idea baseless. Either you don’t recognize that we are all being gamed by a few FF peakers (and Snowy Hydro), or you are a FF troll (or both). Selling off the State owned assets was the start of the problem, but even for those that haven’t (ie. Qld) the prices there are also being rigged where ever possible. Your idea of reliability is like fairy dust. Sprinkle it in the air, and hope some magic happens. Unfortunately the rest of us live it the real world of corporate/Govt GREED. My personal example: Red Energy (retail arm of Snowy Hydro – majority owned by NSW and Vic State Govts). They increased my power costs by 10% on 1 Jan 2017 from 30c to 33c/kWh. Totally unjustified.
          I didn’t bother switching, because I had sold the house already (with PFIT). However, when I moved in to the new house, I searched and search for a new plan…. And Red came out on top for the best price at…. 19.2c/kWh How can this be? Same area, same retailer, same distributor, but nearly half the price? The reason is simple… I had been with Red for 6 years, and like most retailers, an existing client is no more value to them than a bucket of shit. Pricing has nothing to do with subsidizing smelters etc, as they get their cash from general State tax revenue, not from a smelter add-on fee to our power bills. You are sir, are full of crap, just like the retailers, and that includes those that charge ‘extra’ for ‘green power’, which is a scam… when green power actually costs less than dirty brown coal fuelled power.

          When are we going to see a ‘real retailer’, only sourcing power from RE, and resells it with a small margin to cover costs and make an ‘average’ (as opposed to obscene) profit?
          They would also have a WFIT to ensure battery owners got a fair price. WFIT = Wholesale FiT based on the NEM price. Allowing the user to set buy / sell trigger points, just like a trader on the stock exchange.

          I’d set one up myself if I had the knowledge. Any community based entities feel free to comment…

          • humanitarian solar

            There’ll probably never be a “real retailer” in the immediate future, just a bunch of continuous scams with new middle men. See my comment above on load management for options.

      • neroden

        We have day-long blackouts at least once a year in the Northeastern US. It’s annoying but normal and acceptable. The food in the freezer doesn’t go bad until it’s been three days.

  • shusa2013

    Oh sure, the renewable energy program has been a stunning success. Right.

    • Ian

      Giles has often demonstrated that the fault has not been the deployment of renewables but the reluctance of the incumbents and the coalition under Abbott and then ,unfortunately, under Turnbull to embrace the change to renewables. Domestic loads over the past 10 years have become larger and more variable. Space heating has started to become electrical, air-conditioning has become hugely popular, coal power stations have aged, gas has been preferentially exported , the population has grown. People now have the technology to generate their own power at a competitive rate.

      When you say with awesome sarcasm” stunning success.Right” You are being just a little harsh with this transition in process. Especially as government resistance to new technologies has been so irrational and unrelenting.

      All this effort and expense ., often needing to be justified economically, is to wean ourselves off fossil fuels for obvious reasons .

  • Ray Miller

    I listened to Ms Audrey Zibelman this morning on Radio National Saturday Extra and was impressed by the change in language taking about ” customer value” and the importance of the customer. Also the opportunity of finding different solutions than building out extra supply as the only answer when it clearly it is the most expensive option. Nationally and locally we have so many opportunities to make our energy system more efficient and save all customers money.
    So lets see not only targeted dispatchable loads and a concerted effort to also target inefficient peak loads and being serious about energy efficiency.

    • Ian

      Mm, buyer beware, see my other post regarding costing reliability. Audrey Zibelman might just be our angel. Angel of wroth, that is. We have had a grid second to none in reliability, and have been deeply dismayed by the Blackouts in ,.South Australia. Her message is quite simply this ” don’t be so fussy, you will have to pay for the privilege of reliability” That is the real meaning of “Demand Management, and Customer Value”

      • Ray Miller

        I disagree with your argument, I’ve read endless industry reports which ALL blame the customer for all the problems. When we have significant NEM failure to deliver low costs, and have perverse incentives where everyone gets paid for selling more units of energy which discourages efficient use of any resource. The current demand management in many cases is so dumb and poorly manged. From at least one engineer who reports the frequency stability of the grid is one major outage from going black. The voltage (to the end customer) is so poor it is causing a number of problems with evidence to show it has nothing to do with PV systems as it is largely outside of solar generation. Energy efficiency programs have stalled over the last 5 years. We have ( in QLD at least) any number of HWS connected to the general supply and adding significantly to the daily peak and increasing the users bills. We have more than one level of government subsidizing energy bills, which amounts to burning money, where the money should be invested directly in energy efficiency and actually get a return on investment and permanently lower the energy bills. And the quality of the built environment is so poor we need large AC units (as a desirable feature ) to buy protection from hazardous over heating.

        And not so sure about reliability, as we had a 14 hour unavailability of the grid Saturday, not to mention all these in North Queensland for close to a week now. When we have storms that affect the grids aerial wires, our distribution system which puts them in harms way and are easily damaged and difficult and expensive to fix. So very quickly in many areas onsite energy storage and coupling into roof top PV makes a lot sense to give “Customer Value”. This can then be used in a coordinated way to everyone’s benefit.

        I’m not saying nor is Audrey is wonder woman, but a new face and perspective who is at least recognizing that the poor customer is important for the first time in quite a while and that she may be at least have the ability to help define the real problem which needs to be solved.

    • humanitarian solar

      Load management = all of us taking onsite personal responsibility well before problems occur.
      Demand management = giving away our personal responsibility for others to tell us when to react to system challenges by breaking our workflow, sending workers home and when home, moderating our use because of our poorly planned properties, worksites and society in general.

      Load management is proactive and demand management is a reactive, downstream and irresponsible approach merely attempting to patch up our poorly designed power networks.

  • humanitarian solar

    LOAD MANAGEMENT:
    Only a fool or a child wishes to go down the track of handing control or responsibility to power down our power systems to others, in a reactive downstream approach, breaking our work flow and potentially sending workers home. Making centralised authorities responsible for our power systems is irresponsible. The alternative is the upstream proactive strategy of “load management” where a person takes control of their own destiny and plans ahead. Strategies for “load management’ are:
    a) energy efficiency,
    b) onsite wind or solar will reduce our peak demand from the grid,
    c) battery storage will carry our properties through peak demand periods,
    d) good quality inverters have features to draw any deficit of power from the grid slowly and rely upon renewable energy for the majority of onsite power, some inverters have load shedding circuits that automatically activate when the grid has an outage (typically used for hot water or air conditioning), others have a number of dedicated AC circuits that can be programmed to come on at certain times of the day enabling tasks to be staggered around the solar day, some have DC circuits that can be staggered around the solar day.

    “Load management” is the proactive approach of designing our onsite power well and “demand management” is the irresponsible person’s approach to be used by those who have planned poorly or failed to consult ahead of power system challenges.

    • wideEyedPupil

      Well the foolish track was walked down by one NSW network operator/retailer recently with a demo pilot scheme involving residential customers and they offered customers a 50/50 split on savings on the wholesale energy price saving. Uptake was pretty high IIRC, RenewEconomy wrote a story on it.

  • Ken Fabian

    Whatever they do will be an interim solution, to be rethought before it’s even implemented. It doesn’t have to – cannot be – permanent. But at this point I’m not sure any long term foresight and planning is rising above the messy politics except by accident – with climate science denial and enduring commitment to the future of coal and gas that is so close to their hearts preventing the Turnbull government from engaging with the issues in a rational manner.

    A lot of influential calls for carbon pricing – since the results of the previous successful efforts of many of the same interests to prevent and reverse it turned out to not be their liking after all. Of course any actual proposals to reintroduce carbon pricing will not be to their liking either, but the illusion that an absence of overarching policy for a transition to low emissions would be enough (given the complimentary illusion that RE would fall on it’s face) to preserve their fossil fueled business as usual utopia has become unsustainable.

    If agreements from large users to reduce load at crucial times can be reached, do it; if nothing else this whole energy policy mess may put some of the biggest energy generators as well as users on notice. Some may find there are energy savings to be had, others may choose to invest in on-site storage, many may choose to lobby for more rational policy, including longer term policy clarity.

  • Giles, you point out that EnerNOC claims:

    “Relative to global peer markets, the NEM has exceedingly low levels of demand response participation in its wholesale markets,” EnerNoc noted in its submission to the Finkel Review.

    As noted here, they seem to have significantly under-estimated the amount of demand response working already in the NEM:
    http://www.wattclarity.com.au/2017/02/enernoc-seems-to-have-grossly-under-represented-the-amount-of-demand-response-active-in-the-nem/

    An example of an “apples to oranges” comparison.

    Paul

    • humanitarian solar

      A future grid won’t need demand management. Inverters accurately match supply with demand in milliseconds.