Powercor is launching a new program to help save energy within the community and reduce costs to customers will be launched in the Bellarine Peninsula and some parts of the Surf Coast area by network over the 2018-2019 summer.

‘Powercor Energy Partner’ uses a smart device installed in the home to allow both residents and Powercor to set temperatures on air conditioning units to manage peak demand on hot days.

Powercor Head of Digital – Network, Luke Skinner said demand management initiatives such as this were identified by industry regulators and governments as a way of putting downward pressure on energy prices.

“This program is about finding a cost-efficient way to take pressure off our infrastructure, helping keep costs lower for customers,” Mr Skinner said.

“We are committed to providing customers with a safe, reliable and affordable electricity supply. Our network charges are amongst the lowest in the industry, representing around a quarter of your annual electricity bill.

“Increasing the capacity on our poles and wires to allow for high peak demand on a small number of days each year often requires major investments in our network. By partnering with households to manage demand on these days, we can keep network charges low by deferring work on our infrastructure.”

Mr Skinner said that last summer, there were three days when electricity demand was more than 200 per cent greater than an average summer day, driven partly by the growing use of air conditioners.

“On these days, turning up the air conditioner a few degrees will still help you stay cool but will also stretch the availability of electricity to your neighbours and community.

“Quite simply, if together we can reduce the amount of energy consumed when the network is under the greatest pressure, we can make it a more sustainable electricity grid for everyone.”

Powercor Energy Partner will operate between 1 December 2018 and 31 March 2019.

Households can register online to participate and will receive, free of charge, a ‘Sensibo Sky’, a small controller that connects to a split system air conditioner via WIFI and allows the unit to be controlled via an app.

On days when a peak event is declared, Powercor will notify households when it is intended to set the temperature on the air conditioner up to a maximum of 26 degrees. Customers will have time to pre-cool the home and will be kept informed about the changes made. They will also be able to opt-out of events.

Mr Skinner said financial incentives were one way of encouraging customers to participate.

“The more people involved, the more power we can all save,” Mr Skinner said.

At the end of the summer, customers will receive $20 for each time they participated in an Energy Partner event. As a special introductory offer to support the launch, Powercor is offering a $10,000 grant to a primary or secondary school who has the most families participating as Energy Partners.

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