It’s little wonder our trust in political leaders to do the right thing and make the right decisions about our future has been shaken to the core.
We are confronting a trifecta of uncertainty – Brexit, a cliffhanger Australian election and Donald Trump in real contention for the White House.
In Australia, a poll by independent think tank, The Australia Institute, found that in the wake of the Federal election 90 per cent of people want tougher laws on truth in political advertising.
Meantime, a Gallop poll in the U.S. revealed that 81 per cent of Americans think politicians put their own interests first.
If it is indeed the case that our political leaders are inherently self-interested, can we count on them to make the right call on matters impacting our future? Important issues such as renewable energy, emissions targets and energy efficiency?
Taking our energy future into our own hands
It’s Ecocentric’s view that the expectation we place upon our political leaders to shape our energy future is misguided. We can and need to take the power back.
We need to take steps outside of politics in order to effect meaningful change.
The wasteful and inefficient policies of government, coupled with inaction by their supporting bureaucracies is choking energy efficiency initiatives in a quagmire of red tape.
When it comes to inefficiencies, the French President’s hairdressing bill is a deplorable example. He spends more on haircuts each month than 10 Australian households spend on their annual electricity bill.
It doesn’t need to be this way. We don’t need to wait for governments to legislate on emission reduction schemes or renewable energy targets, we have the power right now to make the switch to more innovative technologies.
The free market and competition between energy providers is already driving this shift.
A recent report by investment bank Morgan Stanley predicts that ten per cent of Australian households will be using battery storage by 2020. That’s the equivalent of one million households.
This transition to clean energy is happening in spite of government policy, not because of it.
Solar power and battery storage are already challenging conventional electricity generation and distribution models.
The next game changer for the industry will be access to real time monitoring of electricity consumption for each and every connected device.
The absence of meaningful device level energy data is the biggest single barrier to energy efficiency and access to it will be the biggest driver of success.
Real time energy use data will truly return the power to the people.
Energy efficiency in spite of government policy
The best way for governments to support our clean energy future is to ensure they don’t create impediments or schemes that manipulate outcomes to produce perverse results.
Put simply, they should get out of the way.
Demand side management is an example of a policy setting which at face value is a mechanism for managing peak loads, but may actually prevent wide scale investment in energy efficiency initiatives.
The way electricity tariffs are structured also have the potential to distort price and consumption if a flat rate is charged regardless of time of use.
Electricity tariffs should be linked to real time monitoring data so that prices more accurately reflect the changing cost of supply during the day, allowing customers to choose when they operate appliances.
Ecocentric believes that transparency is the key to taking the power back. Taking the power back from government and from the slick marketing campaigns of those utilities that are fighting to defend a business model that is broken while breaking our planet.
Once businesses and households have access to real time data they will be empowered to take affirmative action for a clean energy future.
The corridors of power are powerless to stop the rapid uptake of renewables and energy efficiency initiatives.
If our political leaders are looking to implement good energy policies, perhaps the best policy is to get out of the way.
Tim Bray is the Chief Executive of energy efficiency company Ecocentric Energy. Ecocentric Energy is helping businesses around the world understand their electricity use and reduce energy consumption.