Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) has become the first council in Queensland to join a trial to optimise electricity use and save money for ratepayers.

Minister for Energy, Dr Anthony Lynham, said the agreement with Yurika, part of the Energy Queensland group of companies, sees TRC as the first council subscriber to the Virtual Power Plant.

“The Yurika Virtual Power Plant has been developed specifically to optimise customers’ energy usage to lower costs and ultimately lower energy prices across the market,” Dr Lynham said.

“Reducing electricity usage at peak times makes good sense for the council and for ratepayers.”

TRC Water and Waste Chair, Nancy Sommerfield, said council had signed an agreement that incorporated 11 of the council’s largest electricity demand sites on the water network including dams and major pumping stations.

“This automated system, a cloud-based load control system, will enable Yurika, in collaboration with their customers, to curtail supply required during peak energy demand events,” Ms Sommerfield said.

“The financial benefit of this partnership means that during a time of high demand, council’s assets can be switched off, supporting the council to reduce its energy bill and share potential savings gained by a reduction of demand.

“The other important benefit is the opportunity to use Yurika’s VPP to reduce the load during peak times, therefore lowering the risk of blackouts or brown outs on the general network.

“The need to pump water long distances and uphill for our water supply means that council is a large electricity user.

“Council is always looking at ways to reduce costs to the ratepayer. Through this innovative contract, we saw the opportunity to cut costs without reducing services.

Yurika executive general manager, Charles Rattray, said he was very happy with the arrangement which would be of enormous benefit to people in Toowoomba and surrounding areas.

“Yurika is very proud of the work its partners such as TCC have done to support their community,” Mr Rattray said.

“We are excited to have TRC as our first council subscribers to the Yurika Virtual Power Plant and encourage all regions to take their lead to support lower cost overall for ratepayers.”

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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