Flexible electricity price options in Victoria
Electricity prices in Victoria are set to change for some households, with new flexible energy options announced by the state government.
Due to be introduced from mid-September, the changes were made possible by the introduction of smart meters, said energy and resources minister Nicholas Kotsiras.
This followed recent research during the Central Victoria Solar City trial, which revealed in-home displays and smart meters helped people in the state trim five per cent off their energy bills.
Households reported that the technology helped them to remember to turn of appliances such as televisions, computers, as well as lights.
Victoria's new voluntary flexible pricing scheme will allow households to sign up for different rates on electricity prices, depending on what time of day they use energy.
This may be peak, shoulder or off-peak times, whereas traditionally a flat tariff was charged.
Mr Kotsiras said: "Flexible pricing will not be for everybody, but studies have shown that for many people these pricing plans will offer new choices that could help them reduce their power bills.
"The introduction of these new pricing options is a major development in the Victorian electricity market."
According to the energy minister, people that consume most of their power outside of peak times are likely to make immediate savings by switching to a flexible plan.
Further savings can be made by switching existing peak demand use outside of these times, Mr Kotsiras added.
The average household could cut bills by $160 a year by running washing machines, dishwashers and clothes dryers to off-peak rates.
The government said it is a voluntary pricing initiative and customers will not be forced off their current tariff.
It was also confirmed that people who decide to switch and then go back to their older tariff with the same electricity supplier could do so without incurring a fee.
However, this will be withdrawn in March 2015.
A community education campaign will soon be launched to make households aware of the changes, with the scheme including web-based tools for people to gain a better understanding of their energy consumption.
There will also be new rules in place to ensure customers are covered under the flexible arrangements.
Mr Kotsiras said: "The Coalition government is carefully managing this to make sure there are strong consumer protections in place and that all Victorians have the information they need to make informed decisions."
Posted by Charlie Moore