What is demand management?
Demand management is action taken by residents, us or a third party to reduce demand on the electrical network. When demand on the network is heavy there may be opportunity for residents to reduce their electricity demand for a period of time in exchange for a payment or a like-for-like reduction in their electricity bills.
To fully understand demand management, we first need to understand what demand means in the context of an electricity network.
Consumption of electricity is the overall amount of electrical energy used over a fixed amount of time. It is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Demand is the electrical power used at any one time and is measured in kilowatts (kW). Most of your appliances will have a power rating written on them somewhere near the wall plug, and they may also have a star rating that talks about the energy that they use. If your oven has a power of 2kW, and you use it for 3 hours then the energy you use will be 2kW multiplied by 3 hours, or 6kWh.
The electrical network can only carry a certain amount of power at once, and the power is determined by how many appliances are used at once, and how hard they are used.
As an example of this, if you use your air-conditioner, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher and washing machine at the same time, you're using a lot of power and placing high demand on the network. If you use all four at different times in the day your demand is spread out. Although you're still consuming the same amount of electrical energy to run those appliances, you've simply reduced the total power, which is reducing the demand.
Demand management initiatives allow us to work with our customers to develop individually tailored responses to reduce power demand at times when the network is under heavy load.
What demand management initiatives are we exploring?
We are working with our customers on three key demand management programs.
SMS program: Energy Share SMS - When we need to lower demand on the network we text customers who want to work with us and ask them to reduce their energy use over a two hour period. This includes activities such as waiting to turn on the dishwasher or washing machine, or adjusting the thermostat so less energy is used. Together, Energy Share SMS helps share energy across the network faster and smarter.
Larger customers switching to alternative power supply - we work with larger customers such as the Canberra Institute of Technology and pay them to reduce the load they are putting on the electricity network by either reducing their consumption or using their own alternative supply like their generators or battery banks.
Virtual Power Plant (VPP): Battery customers feeding power back into the grid - there are roughly 700 batteries installed in the ACT that generate electricity from rooftop solar PV (photovoltaic) panels. Working with battery customers, we can harness the energy from these batteries and feed it back into the grid during times of high demand.
Why is demand management important?
As well as the social benefit of looking after our shared network, demand management is a win-win situation where customers get compensated for their involvement and receive lower electricity charges on their bills long term while allowing us to manage demand. The benefits include the following:
Sustainable electricity network costs - reduction in peak demand can potentially defer network upgrades, so that customers pay no more than necessary for a sustainable energy system.
Increased reliability of service - if customers can switch off their non-essential load in response to a network request when there is local or national supply shortage, we can maintain supply to customers' essential services.
Reducing our carbon footprint - continuing to 'expand' the current network will substantially increase the footprint of the network, which we would like to limit where possible.
Payment for demand reduction - customers who participate in demand management programs may receive a payment for participation.
I want to help. How do I get involved?
There are some really easy ways for you to be a part of these exciting and important initiatives.
If you're a large customer (businesses, institutions etc) you can contact our demand management team and talk to us on ways you can help. Email them on firstname.lastname@example.org
If you're working in the demand management space and think you may be able to suggest good ways to address future network constraints, please sign up to our Register of Interested Parties - the form is at the bottom of this page.