Saturday, January 28, 2006

Green electricity affordable if you try.

The Australian head of state's representative in Australia really isn't a bad old bloke. Whatever foreign royal Governor-General Michael Jeffery represents he does have his head in the right place with his Australia Day call for Australians to recognise global warming as one of the greatest threats to our future.

But when loyal subject E. Suchet of St Ives, Sydney decided to heed the Queen's man and do something about minimising global warming his enthusiasm was short lived:

Green at a premium

Our Governor-General warns us of the cost of global warming ("Our golden soil is in danger, Jeffery warns", January 27). I took him at his word, and phoned my energy company to find out the cost of getting "green" energy. I was told "20 per cent extra". So much for that idea.

Surely our governments should be encouraging the use of safer energy, and subsidising to a greater extent solar panels on roofs and water storage from gutters. Makes sense to me. When will it make sense to politicians?

E. Suchet St Ives

SMH Letters to the Editor January 28, 2006

Mr Suchet, if you conserve 20 per cent of your electricity output and buy green electricity at a 20 percent premium, then you break even, the evironment wins and you leave a better legacy for your children and grandchildren. Plus you make green energy more economical and this has a positive multiplier effect throughout society whereas exactly the opposite happens when you purchase coal generated electricity.

Don't believe you can save 20 per cent on your electricity bills? 15 percent of EnergyAustralia's customers billed by time of day are achieving exactly that under a scheme designed to stop the conservers of electricity subsidising the people with air conditioners.

A survey of 3000 EnergyAustralia customers being billed under the new time-of-use system found the average saving was about 10 per cent, compared with a flat tariff.

Almost 15 per cent of customers were saving 20 per cent or more on their bills.

But customers with higher bills used at least 50 per cent more peak-time energy than the average customer, EnergyAustralia said.

Under time-of-use pricing, the peak period is between 2pm and 8pm on weekdays, when the cost of electricity is higher than the traditional flat tariff.

For the rest of the week, the price of electricity is lower than that paid by customers under a flat tariff.

Of the 3000 surveyed, the average residential customer consumed only 21 per cent of their electricity during the peak period, compared with about 25 per cent for customers on a flat tariff.

"The feedback we have had from customers is they have been able to save money with small changes to their electricity use by simply using appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and pool pumps when power is cheaper," Mr Maltabarow said. "I don't make any apologies for mandating time-of-use across the system."

EnergyAustralia is installing "smart" electricty meters in 200,000 Sydney homes and is now able to bill heavy users, such as people with air conditioners, for their drain on the system by charging peak, shoulder and off-peak pricing periods as opposed to a flat tariff.
EnergyAustralia is also experimenting with other pricing arrangements, and hopes the move away from a flat tariff will eventually cut its ballooning capital works program, with the savings passed on to customers.

Air-conditioners are responsible for more than half the growth in peak electricity demand in NSW.

That growth is soaking up a large part of the capital spent by firms such as EnergyAustralia to deliver electricity.

The reason why is that the network has to be engineered to accommodate electricity peaks.

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