ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Tessa Muldoon
Tessa Muldoon Tessa has been working in the Australian solar industry for her family business - The Solar Guys in Brisbane for just over 4 years. After an explosion in residential solar in Australia, the focus now shifts to helping businesses and corporations bring down their utility bills and harness more sustainable internal policies. Tessa's contribution is drawn upon her experience and completed Diploma of Sustainability to give practical advice for each business to understand their 'green' options and how these can be applied successfully everyday.

Tessa Muldoon has written 22 article(s) for us.

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Understanding Power Price Changes

August 15, 2012 | Tessa Muldoon

Understanding where your power is going can end up saving you money. Learn ways to reduce your energy usage.
Understanding where your power is going can end up saving you money. Learn ways to reduce your energy usage.

We all know the cost of living, even the basics, is going up. It is this simple fact that is spurring everyone to look at alternatives and what they can do to help counteract the increases.

Solar power and solar hot water are the obvious choices as an addition for any operation as we can take the heat or light energy from the sun and use this to our advantage. Solar has been used for many years as a way for people to save electricity and make money from their roofs.

But what many consumers don’t understand is that the way we are charged for power in Australia is in the process of being dramatically overhauled and this is going to have a much larger impact on the power bill. What has happened in the past is that there has been a standard increase on the kilowatt-hour cost of using power no matter when the usage was in a 24-hour period.

Now we have the gradual introduction of time-of-use tariffs, which will split the cost of electricity up in to various usage blocks depending on peak times. For example, it will make the cost of using power between 4pm and 8pm each day significantly higher than all other times of the day. This is a starting point but there may be other peak time usage blocks introduced in the morning and at other times depending on overall consumption within our state.

Time-of-use tariffs, or controlled tariffs as they are sometimes called, may be new into the Australian power market but have been used extensively in other developed countries around the world. From the power generators point of view, they allow correct pricing and peak-load management when the strain on the grid is at its highest.

So what does this mean?

Traditionally the easiest way to dramatically lower your power bill was either:

  •  install solar power capable of generating power and selling excess back to the grid at a much higher price
  • lowering consumption in the home and commit to saving power with more energy efficient appliances and lower usage overall.

But now with the introduction of time-of-use tariffs, both of these options are hampered in most households by unavoidable high usage during peak night times. Although there is still the option to sell excess solar power back to the grid, the more financially viable option in both the short and long term will be to look at using a larger amount of the solar generation off the roof, in turn shifting solar power usage from day to night.

It’s for this reason that the interest in battery storage and battery compatible inverters are seen as the future for solar power systems in this country and are being deployed rapidly in markets like Europe and America to negotiate peak load issues.

It may sound like a complicated process and far beyond what you and your business is willing to implement internally but you must understand all of your options. Power prices are only going one way and unfortunately it’s not down.