Smart grid technology helping out consumers

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When consumers are able to find out more information about their energy use, their energy costs are bound to fall as they can easily identify what sort of behaviour is costing them money.

Armed with this information, they can then take the required steps - which are often very simple - to lower their usage.

This has shown to be evident as consumers taking part in Australia's smart grid trials are reaping the benefits of reduced energy consumption and energy bills. The current trials are being run in Newcastle, beginning in November 2012 and are set to be extended until March 2014.

This government lead Smart Grid, Smart City initiative is worth $100 million dollars and is also trialling other technologies such as smart meters, electric vehicles, battery storage and ceramic fuel cells - all designed with energy efficiency and reduced costs in mind.

A smart grid combines advanced communication, sensing and metering infrastructure within the existing electricity network. The technology has the potential to improve the efficiency of the electricity sector and improve the reliability of electricity suppliers.

It also gives consumers easy access to data about their own energy usage, meaning that they can change their energy consumption behaviours in line with the information, technology and pricing structures they receive, lowering their use and therefore costs.

Participating consumers in the current trials come from from up to 30,000 households, and have benefited financially from the smart grid trials, receiving an average rebate of $16.31 in each of seven peak-time trials of up to four hours - totalling $84,000 in rebates paid out since March of this year.

Peak load and demand issues can be alleviated by the use of the smart grid, which is of great benefit to the energy consumer, according to Federal member for Newcastle, Sharon Grierson.

"Meeting peak demand is one of the biggest pressures driving up the cost of electricity, and smarter use of our energy could help ease this pressure," said Ms Grierson, highlighting how the smart grid may help to ease rising electricity prices.

Ms Grierson has praised the project for sitting within thetop three international smart grid projects currently being delivered in the world.

"The project is testing a range of smart grid technologies and retail tariffs with the potential to help consumers reduce their energy use and ultimately reduce their electricity bills," said Ms Grierson.

Posted by Charlie Moore