Energex moves to discourage off-peak electricity usage

From RenewEconomy’s website comes a story that can only be described as the truth will come out.  Amidst the power distributors’ claims that the purpose behind the smart meter rollout is to enable consumers to switch their electricity usage to off peak times, comes allegations that Energex in Queensland is endeavouring to make it undesirable for consumers to do so.

Giles Parkinson writes:

Queensland government owned network operator Energex has taken the extraordinary step of banning battery storage, air conditioning and appliances such as washing machines and clothes dryers from off peak loads in a move that has stunned the solar and storage industry.

The move was announced without explanation in an email to electricians and rooftop solar installers. It seemed hastily cobbled together, it couldn’t spell “tariff” (see below), and energy experts are struggling to see the logic in it.




Indeed, sources told RenewEconomy that the response was so savage that Energex had advised that the rule changes would be withdrawn by the end of the day, and only re-introduced after proper consultation with the industry. Indeed, that was confirmed by a new email from Energex that it was only a proposal, and apologies for the confusion.

As it is, the industry is perplexed. They say the proposed changes brings to an end decades of efforts of trying to shift consumption away from peak demand.

And they pointed out that it made no sense to exclude battery storage from off-peak loads, but at the same time allow electric vehicle batteries – as the load looks exactly the same to the network. And why allow another form of storage – hot water – and not batteries?

Some suggested it may be a sign of panic in the network industry in the face of the biggest changes to energy demand in a century, or just a ruse to increase peak load and give the network an excuse to push the case for yet more poles and wires.

“I have been in this business for 35 years and I am at a complete loss to explain why Energex has done this,” said Mike Swanston, a consumer advocate who was a long-serving senior executive at Energex. “I cannot understand why they would make this ruling, and why there was no consultation with industry to change a decades-old practice.”

The ruling

The ruling means that the cheaper 18c/kWh off-peak tariff – also known as controlled load – will not be available for newly purchased air conditioners, washing machines and dishwashers. And won’t be able to be used by households with battery storage as arbitrage by charging up at cheap rates at night and selling at higher rates during the day.

Experts say it is just the latest in a series of sudden and seemingly indiscriminate tariff and rule changes made by networks across Australia as they struggle to plug leaks in their revenue and business models caused by the rise of rooftop solar and battery storage.

All sorts of tariff changes have been proposed and implemented, including slashing export tariffs to zero or a minimal rate, blocking connections, restricting exports from solar PV, jacking up fixed network tariffs, introducing ‘demand charges’ that are seen more as a revenue raiser than a solution to peak loads, introducing high metering charges, and proposing fees and charges to households who choose to quit the grid.

Recent tariff changes in Energex, which operates in the south-east corner of Queensland, including Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, have also been controversial.

Changes to fixed tariffs means that low-consumption households are paying up to 72c/kWh, and high demand tariffs are placing huge costs on small businesses.

Energex also recently shifted controlled-load electric hot water systems from midnight to the middle of the day – reflecting the shift in supply as solar booms – but refuses to pay higher tariffs for the solar output networks had previously described as useless.

Off-peak loads have been used widely, particularly for hot water, to move demand away from the daytime peak. Some analysts don’t mind this being reversed, because they see off-peak simply propping up coal-fired generators that had little demand at night time but could not switch off.

In its latest email, Energex hinted that the changes were part of a new series of tariffs that would be introduced in July, including alternative load tariffs and a new demand response mechanism.

Rob Campbell, from Vulcan Energy, said the concept is “definitely a step in the right direction”. But he said that without true, cost effective time of use tariffs, the only beneficiaries are likely to be the networks.

“Considering that our off peak rate for appliances is only 10-15 per cent lesser than the peak rate, why would anyone bother with this scheme. Only once smart meters are rolled out will this make sense. But first we need competition, not monopoly corporations,” he told RenewEconomy.

Malcolm Richards, the head of the Master Electricians Australia, said his complaint derived from a conflict of interest by the network by being able to set tariff changes to its own advantage.

He said Energex was likely to create new tariffs that would incorporate battery storage, air con and other appliances, but they may not be as attractive as they could be.

Richards is also at war with Energex over its proposal to establish a new subsidiary company that threatens to compete with electricians and provide jobs for its own staff.

“This is a huge conflict of interest. They are changing the rules, creating a new subsidiary and gaining a financial advantage over others. It is not right.”


This entry was posted in Energex, Power Company, Queensland, time-of-use pricing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Energex moves to discourage off-peak electricity usage

  1. Wendy says:

    I agree, Paul. I read the ATA.org.au magazine. You may have heard of it or not. It is an independant organisation that updates all to do with solar power and sustainable living.

  2. Anonymous says:

    We need to all go off grid and have a rebellion against these communist pricks.

    • Hy Cart says:

      By the above dates, I have come late to this party. However, I have a 10 kW solar system, installed in 2013. New meter was installed a year later. In the first year – NO BILL. After the new ‘smart meter’, our bill has now hit $1800 for a quarter (Pre Solar system bill was around $700 a quarter). Two people live here, both shift workers. No air conditioning, one medium TV and a spa. No amount of testing, checking or arguing has made any difference. SO – we have just purchased 48 volts of Nickel Iron batteries and a 15 kW diesel generator, and a Sunny Island inverter to couple all this to our 2 X 5 kW Sunny Boy inverters. I had previously tried to get some sort of thing going where on a random day each month, (random so that the power companies did not know when it would happen) all solar owners in QLD would turn off their system for a whole day. It would have made little impact to out FIT, but would have made the power companies realise that without our solar production, they are SCREWED. BUT unfortunately couldn’t get anyone to commit to a plan like that. The power companies keep on stealing our solar generated power from us, and sell it back to us for 3 or 4 times the amount they pay us. A of of folks keep on moaning about high power costs, but seems that no one is prepared to stand up and demand fair treatment, or take some sort of action that may make a difference. So farewell, power grid…..HELLO OFF GRID LIFE.
      I am now dismounting from my soap box. Have a nice day. 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    . I am getting tired of reading about possible cancer causing devices. The article”Energex moves to discourage off-peak electricity usage”” also states” Only once smart meters are rolled out will this make sense. ”
    To all those that have consented to possible cancer causing devices or are going to consent, don’t complain if and when you become ill, because i am so sick and tired of whinging people. I am sick and tired of the lazy people that basically don’t care about anyone but themselves. That is why these greedy corporations win because people are so lazy and apathetic.
    When i say consent i mean people that actually asked for smart meters or will ask, this includes some of my neighbors, who are aware of the dangers but are either too lazy, greedy or just selfish to do anything about it.
    Cancers are increasing this is fact. we have access to information now more than ever, you can do your own research you don’t have to believe what i say. In a time when we have so much technology i do wonder why people now seem to be stupider than ever before? ,

  4. Anonymous says:

    These people seem to be as smart as the smart people that thought of possible cancer causing devices.

  5. Paul says:

    Thank goodness I don’t have a smart meter. Still, I’m waiting for a decent battery system that will enable me to go off grid, then to hell with the electricity companies.

    I know that solar + inverter + batteries is expensive way to go and it would be years before one recuperates investment, but who cares? The electricity companies are going to go out of business in a few short years – well and good!

    • Hy Cart says:

      A couple of years late, but you should research NICKEL IRON batteries. (AKA EDISON BATTERY) The technology is very early 20th century, but these batteries were used in submarines, trains, and powered the first electric cars in the first years of the 20th century, and are STILL WORKING TODAY. (Car nut Jay Lenno and his wife both own 1910 model electric cars with the original battery, and both are driven regularly, and often) They do cost more than lead acid batteries, but have a much deeper depth of discharge (can go all the way to 100% with out damaging the battery) and are not damaged by overcharging. But you do the research…and make your own decision. I DID and will not have to replace the batteries in my lifetime, and possibly the next generation of owners here will not have to either.

      NICKEL IRON BATTERIES….check them out.

Leave a Reply to Hy Cart Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s