Wattwatchers challenges big energy retailers to help households save on power bills with ‘real-time data’
WE TAKE A STAND!
Nice work Prime Minister summoning the nation’s top energy retailer bosses to Canberra today (Wednesday, August 9th, 2017) to ‘eyeball’ them on rising electricity prices and their impact on consumers, especially economically vulnerable households.
You’re right to highlight how consumers need more information from their energy retailers. Information to know when they should switch to another electricity provider for a better deal, exercising their ‘Power of Choice’, or alternatively to make sure they are on best-rate pricing with their incumbent retailer.
That, however, is only part of the consumer empowerment story for electricity. It’s not the whole story.
Consumers don’t just need more ‘information’ on their utility’s terms. They need hard data and control in their own hands. Accurate, real-time data that’s readily available to householders themselves, and also to anyone they want to advise them on how they can pay less for energy and still get the same or better service.
Empowering data that can be readily viewed on their smartphones and computers whenever they or their energy-saving expert advisers want to see it. Data with a response time of seconds on the energy they import from the main electricity grid and use, or make from rooftop solar PV, or export back to the grid, including exactly when they use it.
As an Australian homegrown energy technology company, Wattwatchers is not a Tesla or an Elon Musk, so we can’t offer a $100 million energy solution for free if we can’t meet a delivery deadline - as Musk did with the South Australian big battery project earlier this year.
But we can do something right now that can help 50 Australian households immediately by giving them real-time data and enveloping them with cutting-edge technologies and expert support to save energy, cut their current bills, work to minimise ‘bill shock’ and help them to buttress against future price hikes.
At the same time we can show the nation’s top energy system influencers a taste of what real-time data can do for understanding how they, as consumers themselves as well as industry decision-makers, use energy and hopefully in some cases make energy in their own homes.
So here’s our offer to the energy retailer bosses.
Wattwatchers will supply, install and maintain for a minimum of three years our award-winning technology for managing electricity in real-time over the internet for up to 50 Australian households introduced to us by any of the seven energy retailer leaders on the Prime Minister’s ‘invitation list’ (see below).
Our main conditions are that an energy retailer taking up the offer will assemble the voluntary participants, who should own their homes or have landlord approval, should be all in one city within the National Electricity Market (NEM) for ease-of-installation reasons, and preferably the bigger their power bills the better.
We hope one or more will accept. If none of them take up our offer, however, then the 50-for-free offer still stands and we will create the planned energy-saving network for householders introduced to Wattwatchers by others including:
Smaller more progressive energy retailers that want to change the electricity system by giving more power to consumers.
Social welfare and consumer advocacy organisations recommending and introducing consumers to Wattwatchers as worthy case studies where data could make a difference.
Local councils and relevant federal, state and territory government agencies.
Other semi-government or independent agencies including but not limited to the AEMC, AEMO, the AER, the ACCC, ARENA and the CEFC (excuse the acronyms, but we could be here forever spelling them all out).
We understand that for probity and other reasons some from the list above might want to pay the market rate for their home energy management kit from Wattwatchers, and if required we will facilitate that on a case-by-case basis. But the offer is free-of-charge unless agreed otherwise.
Wattwatchers also commits to report back how many, if any, take up our offer.
For privacy reasons, we’ll only name names with the express approval of participants; and all participants will be invited to share their data in securely anonymised form to assist other energy consumers, and also grid operators and regulators, to better understand electricity usage in Australian homes - and how to save it and cut bills.
What will participants get?
The offer is based on a special Wattwatchers Home WiFi (or 3G) package - maintained for a minimum of three years - that includes:
Installation by a qualified electrician arranged by Wattwatchers
WiFi connects wirelessly to the home’s router (requires configuration)*
Monitors up to 6 single-phase circuits, or 2 three-phase, or a mix
Class 1 accurate energy measurements transmitted every 5 secs (or 30 secs for 3G)
Comes bundled with Wattwatchers’ home energy management App
App includes budgeting tools and alerts to help save energy
Live Graph supports DIY energy audits & phantom-load spotting
Opportunities to gain access to other third-party partner Apps, advice and energy services
*3G model may be substituted for some installations, using the mobile spectrum to connect to the internet rather than broadband. Any additional data plan charges also will be covered by Wattwatchers as part of the offer.
Why are we doing this?
The Wattwatchers team believes implicitly that real-time energy data is critical for consumers to save money off the service of electricity. So we are putting our technology where our mouths are!
Usage profile has major implications for buying better, managing time-of-use better, saving consumption and therefore money and emissions through better efficiency, and the better adoption and integration of distributed and clean energy technologies.
There’s a really big business-model challenge in this for energy retailers, their industry and their regulators. Ultimately it’s a contest between utility profits and customer rights to be treated fairly and to have more direct control of their own energy destiny.
More data in real-time is vital to really help consumers, including lower-income households beset by rising energy prices, to save money on their power bills. And that’s not what consumers get from the traditional model of quarterly or monthly electricity bills.
The core challenge to the industry is that its profits are closely tied to selling their customers more electrons, not less.
It’s necessary, however, to switch on more data to empower consumers. Even if giving residential and small business customers more data means they will be better equipped to use less energy overall, and to optimise their investments in clean technologies at their homes, thus spending less in real terms on buying in energy from their retailers.
FOOTNOTE: These are the eight summoned to Canberra - seven retailers plus one industry body representing retailers - to meet PM Turnbull, Treasurer Scott Morrison and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg: Catherine Tanna (Energy Australia), Frank Calabria (Origin Energy), Andy Vesey (AGL), Paul Broad (Snowy Hydro), Paul Geason (Momentum Energy), Jeff Dimey (Alinta Energy). Carly Wishart (Simply Energy) and Matthew Warren (Australian Energy Council).