Electricity Costs Increasing-Is this Right?

I only heard part of a news story today, but I'm sure I heard that electricity used between 2pm and 8pm each day was going to be charged at double the price. Did I hear right? It doesn't make sense to me.

Who are home at 2pm most days? Pensioners? Unemployed? Are they going to be hit with higher charges for watching TV in the middle of the day? Are families going to be charged double for cooking tea before 8pm each night? What about kids doing their homework with a heater or air con on before 8pm Do business's move their hours of operation to night shift and close down the computers in the afternoons in order to save on electricity?

I don't get it. Was there more to the story that I didn't hear?

Olly
 
No, you heard right.

There is talk in Brisbane of installing electricity meters that charge different rates depending on the time the power is used. To add insult to injury, home owners are going to have to pay for the new meter.....

Another desperate ploy to make up for the state government running infrastructure into the ground.
Marg
 
Makes sense to me. There are many things that are charged on a peak/offpeak basis.

Fuel, groceries, internet, accommodation, plumbers, electricians, transport, drinks at a bar, pools (winter/summer).

I don't see why electricity accounts should be any different.
 
It's all to do with the marginal cost of supplying power at those times. Off peak periods can be supplied by coal power stations = expensive to build but cheap to run so have to run all the time. Peak periods requires the installation of new gas power stations = cheaper to build but expensive to run so they need a good price signal to bother.

Power stations to meet the last 20% of power demand only run for around 3% of the time. They have to achieve high prices at those times in order for someone to be bothered building them. Otherwise the lights and air cons go off in the middle of a heatwave!

Pricing in electricity market works in real time - if those high prices aren't passed on to final customers then there will be no demand response. It is very inefficient to just let market prices shoot up to $10,000/MWh (as they do on occasion) and have that cost annualised into your "uniform tariff" rather than pass on a small portion of it to consumers, who might just reduce their demand a wee bit when they see what the price is. It's the final customer who controls what they switch on.

For too long governments have protected consumers from the reality of the electricity market, creating terrible inefficiencies in the process. Many power stations would not have to be built at all if consumers were able to respond to market prices, because it would be much, much cheaper for the consumer to turn something off than throw another generator on! :eek:

In my ideal world you would have a cent-o-meter in the kitchen showing you the current 5 minute market price for electricity. Might make you think about putting in good insulation so you can cool down the house in the morning, then ride through the afternoon heat with the air con on a higher setpoint to use less juice. Maybe put a few timers on appliance like pool filters etc.

As an aside, peak shifting is great from an economic efficiency point of view for lowering overall costs but not from an environmental one. Shifting load to offpeak periods loads up coal power stations (= more CO2) and removes the less greenhouse intensive gas units from the mix. But that is a whole other topic!
 
It's all to do with the marginal cost of supplying power at those times. Off peak periods can be supplied by coal power stations = expensive to build but cheap to run so have to run all the time. Peak periods requires the installation of new gas power stations = cheaper to build but expensive to run so they need a good price signal to bother.

The other issue with coal and nuclear thermal (steam) power stations is that they can't simply be switched on/off (takes about 3 days for a shutdown / restart?) or made to run "faster" to generate more power by adding more fuel.

So basically the baseline "offpeak" is supplied through these, with the "peaks" being met with gas, oil and hydro.

Cheers,

The Y-man
 
The other issue with coal and nuclear thermal (steam) power stations is that they can't simply be switched on/off (takes about 3 days for a shutdown / restart?) or made to run "faster" to generate more power by adding more fuel.

Hi Y-man

Your time period is approximately correct for nuclear due to the need for complete control over what is happening in the reactor - sudden changes there are very undesirable! :eek: Although you can always trip a unit to turn it off quick - getting it back online again under controlled conditions is the problem.

Coal thermal units however are a bit different. There are a number of existing coal power stations that are "two shifted" regularly ie turned off overnight and on again in the morning. This is hard on them and it is generally accepted that doing this shortens the life of the power station / adds maintenance costs but probably not by a lot in the scheme of things.

Existing coal power stations have however, generally been built at least cost with an expectation for them to run at base load so they haven't generally been designed to vary their output much. Most existing coal power stations can't operate in a stable manner below about 60% of their output purely because they haven't been designed for it. There is nothing inherent in the technology to prevent a coal power station running reasonably efficiently between about 30% to 100% of its output - it just has to be designed for it and yes, this costs more. BTW gas turbines enjoy stable operation between 0-100% of output.

The real problem is the economics of thermal power stations - at approx $2000/kW to install they are much more expensive to build than gas turbines at under $1000/kW. They only make this up with their baseload operation through their use of cheap coal. Building an expensive coal plant and then only operating it during peak periods would not be at all competitive with new gas plant because you can't make up the capex difference with their lower use of fuel as they aren't using that fuel often enough...

So coal = baseload and gas / hydro / oil = peak from an economic POV not a technical one. IME with the power market, when you dig a little you find technical impediments to things are relatively few and far between! Hope that makes sense... :)
 
hmmm.

i would have to wonder about the benefits of "peak" period billing.

all it means is that cafes and restaraunts won't serve dinner before 8pm - what a family friendly idea that is.

and the market for a stand-alone solar system just gets bigger all the time.....
 
Just get one of these for your backyard :D

http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/

I would if I could! Problem is they don't exist... they haven't even been designed! Gotta love a company that has *nothing* as a product! The Seinfeld company? :p

A bit like cheap solar in that respect - an oxymoron at present. Conventional solar panels can never become cost competitive because of the energy it takes to produce them. They only look cheaper now because of how cheap electricity is in China! Thin Film Solar is the best prospect for getting the price of solar down as it doesn't require (as much) smelting of sand in an arc furnace at 2000 degrees :)eek:) to make silicon...

But at the moment it is still expensive and so only a prospect. If I only had a dollar for each of these ideas I have seen come and go over the last twelve or so years I would be able to retire... :eek:

Coal still provides 80% of our power and new coal power stations are still being built!

For those who say govt subsidy for these up and coming technologies will ensure their success I can only point out that the tap always gets turned off whenever a significant amount of money starts to flow through it... those who live by the subsidy eventually die by the subsidy.

But I totally agree we have to keep trying! One of these days a technology will come along that can commercially compete with the one we are currently using (which is over 100 years old BTW!). I just hope I won't be so jaded as to miss it entirely when I see it... :p
 
i'm personally looking into a wind generator or three for my roof.

we live on the coast, and if it's not blowing from the NW, it's blowing from the SW.

i'll be building them myself using a "silent running / low drag" radiator fan as the fan blade - huge pitch, completely silent and already balanced.
 
i'm personally looking into a wind generator or three for my roof.

we live on the coast, and if it's not blowing from the NW, it's blowing from the SW.

i'll be building them myself using a "silent running / low drag" radiator fan as the fan blade - huge pitch, completely silent and already balanced.

Hi BC

/Quick hijack

Lookup the Western Power technical requirements for connecting said generation device/s - they have to worry about such things as their linesmen getting a shock if your generator is on when the network is meant to be dead... so they have published chapter and verse on what you need to do. Connection through an approved inverter would be the way to go...

BTW you are right the turbine would be slow running and quiet. Unfortunately it won't produce much power either as the design is wrong for power generation. Think wind mill vs modern wind turbine. Wind mill = lotsa blades with pitch = good start up torque to get the pump going. After that it's great at dumping excess wind because it's a drag device and can't overspeed. Actually don't want to get too much power out of it. The rotor is offset from the tower so in extreme winds it gets pushed out of the wind.

Wind turbine is a small number of thin blades with very little pitch. Even the ones on the back of a yacht. They need to be lift devices to get anywhere near a decent efficiency and this means getting the tip speed up to 200km/h and above. As power increases with the cube of wind speed they need to be able to follow the wind speed up - just generating from the low speed stuff won't cut it. Hence, efficient small wind turbines sound like a whipper snipper while the big ones can just loll around at about 20 rpm.

Your blades would be cheap of course but you still have to get the rest of the gear... If you want to have a chat about the issues, feel free to PM or we can start a new thread! :rolleyes:

/end quick hijack
 
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