Demand side management

Person switching off light.

Electricity demand in WA is increasing driven by the connection of new businesses and homes, and a rise in the use of air conditioners. This puts increasing pressure on the network and requires large investments to cope with short peaks in demand. Demand management aims to encourage a change in electricity use. This will enable the network to work more efficiently and may allow deferral of major and costly upgrades, financially benefiting all Western Australians.

Working with customers and retailers, we are thinking differently about energy usage. For example: shifting energy usage to off-peak times, agreements to reduce demand at peak times upon request, substituting sources of generation, installing more efficient equipment and appliances, switching fuels from electricity to gas, direct load control and energy efficiency education programs are all strategies to address peak demand.

Initiatives such as Green Town and Power Down are helping us manage peak demand and extend the life of existing network assets.

Why do we need Demand Management?

The electricity network is built to accommodate peak use. Managing the demand of peak use is important to efficiently expand the network and keep electricity prices reasonable. Sometimes we may not even need to expand the network to provide additional capacity as reducing peak demand will be enough.

We embrace demand management which complements our role as an Energy Solutions business and our purpose of connecting people with electricity in a way that is safe, reliable and affordable. We are also obliged under the Access code (which governs the way we supply electricity)  to consider alternatives to supply side network capacity investment such as demand management where this leads to lower overall costs.

Approaches to Managing Demand

Demand management can include targeted incentives, technologies and customer education programs directed towards reducing or changing patterns of energy use.

For businesses this could include:

  • Reducing your demand at peak times on request from Western Power
  • Moving your main hours of operation to earlier or later in the day on days of peak demand
  • Substituting where your power comes from during peak hours, i.e. use a generator, or cogeneration
  • Installing more efficient equipment, such as energy efficient lights
  • Changing some electrical loads to other fuels, such as natural gas
  • Improving the power factor of loads by installing power factor correction capacitor banks

For residential customers, implementing demand management may mean:

  • Direct load control of appliances like air conditioners, pool pumps and the like, which allows power consumption to be managed at peak times. Customers generally do not experience any difference in comfort during these events
  • Off peak tariffs to encourage electricity use at times other than during peak
  • Incentives for improving energy efficiency of homes and installing energy efficient appliances
  • Energy efficiency customer education programs

Demand Management initiatives and programs

We are developing some demand management initiatives to provide alternative solutions to network building more network infrastructure.

Some of the initiatives include:

  • Green Town project run with the Denmark/ Walpole community to reduce peak demand and educate about energy efficiency 
  • Air Conditioner Trial  (ACT), conducted as part of Australian Government’s Perth Solar City Programme, utilised Western Power’s Smart Grid to wirelessly communicate with air-conditioners to cycle the compressor while the fan continued to run. The trial is the first of its kind in Australia to utilise smart grid infrastructure.
  • Nedlands, Dalkeith and Claremont air conditioner direct load control trials conducted in 2008, which has provided an understanding of how this technology works and how customers react to it
  • Intelligent control of CBD HVAC systems to save energy 
  • Installation of small Stand-Alone Power Systems (SPS) as an alternative supply to edge of grid customers. SPSs can take different forms, and often include a battery bank, supplemented by solar panels and a small diesel generator for back-up