emPOWERed neighbours

Team Name: 
OpenEnergy

People know they should be doing more… to lower their energy bills and to pay less tax. But saving energy is BORING!!!

So we’re turning everything on its head… we’re going to make saving energy RELEVANT and EXCITING!

Firstly, you don’t have to go it alone.  Be part of a like-minded community…  Challenge each other, celebrate your achievements, make a game of it and have fun!

Secondly, act collectively.  There are some things that just make more sense or are more affordable at a community scale.  Batteries, solar-hubs, a wind-turbine… the list is endless and growing!

Lastly, do it for each other.  Some of the things we can do today won’t affect our individual bills, but will make a difference to the network.  We’ll be making a strong case for collective action like this to be rewarded, freeing-up real money for causes the Community supports… like the local school, the local sporting team or the local wetland.

 

Why are we doing this?

Most people don't realise how they are paying for power and what it is they are actually paying for. There are three things you are paying for:

  1. Provision of generators, that are sitting there, ready to generate power (that's right, they're not on all the time...)
  2. Actual power used
  3. Poles and wires to get power to your home

Sounds fairly straight-forward, but there’s a kicker. As we want our electricity to be available 24/7, the power network has to be built to cater for peak demand. There are peak demand times every day but there are some days during the year where we use even more energy than normal.

Energy retailers buy the power from the network at varying prices, whereas we tend to buy the energy from the energy retailers on a fixed price tariff. This means that energy retailers factor their varying prices into our tariffs; which makes it easier for us to check our power bills. For the daily peak demand, the prices for energy retailers generally range from $35-38 (normal demand) to $80-90 per Megawatt during peak demand times. There are generally 12 days during a year with the highest power consumption; the price for those days tends to be way higher. For 2014, the highest price for power was $305 per Megawatt. You can check the so-called ‘balancing price’ on: http://www.imowa.com.au/.

 

The Idea

Our idea is to get communities to engage and invest or create infrastructure that helps to reduce the demand on the power network during peak demand times. For example; a well placed power storage facility (battery) charged by solar power generated from houses within the community will be able to reduce the strain on the network during peak demand times and thereby reduce the cost of power for the energy retailer.

At the moment, energy retailers don’t pass on any savings to their customers. That is what we want to change;

  1. the community has reduced peak demand and
  2. saved the energy retailer money,
  3. so the community should share in those benefits and decide how the benefits should be spent.

 

What we do

Communities will need ‘Champions’ to connect, inspire and support them.

  • We’re developing the guides and tools to help them.

There will need to be great data, highly visual, highly specific to the community.

  • We’ve already mashed-up data from Synergy, IMO, BOM and Planning... with more to follow.

People will need to know what measures make sense… for them.

  • We are developing an open API so anyone can play with our data.  Our analysts are constantly generating insights that are absolutely tailored to each community and their goals and capabilities.

There needs to be automated actions (The Internet Of Things).

  • We’ve already created three separate devices… One to monitor household energy (without needing an expensive SmartMeter; we call it PAUL), One to show them peoples they’re tracking against their goals, and One that can turn people’s appliances on and off (FLOW)… with their agreement ;-)

There will need to be automated encouragement (Gamification).

  • We’re scoping an App that will show people their own progress against goals, how they compare with others, and how the community as a whole is doing against others.

 

Call to action

In order to achieve anything, people need to take action!

We validated the ideas we have and received overwhelming support for the community based approach. 

Almost everyone believes they can save money and are willing to install devises and apps. Most people will work with the community and many will champion the way forward:

Over 60 people surveyed

Believe 

Save money 96% 
Use the info 90%
Will use a devise or app 88%

Belong 

Interested in community levels 75%
Being involved in a group 80%
Willing to lead 58%

So we will create support, guides, contracts, and perhaps even help them source finance as well as enabling them to upload their actions and be recognised for their hard work.

To recognise us for our work and to help drive this idea; consider us for the awards nominated.

Datasets Used: 
* Synergy residential Export and Import summary (limited to 4 suburbs, PV households only) * IMO Balancing Market Summary: http://data.imowa.com.au/#balancing-summary * BOM Daily Max Temperature * BOM Daily Min Temperature

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