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New data from United Energy has shown that public desire to ease the load on the energy grid has hit an all-time high following successful customer engagement with demand response initiatives in the summer of 2019/20.

Following news that the NSW Government’s public call for people to reduce their energy consumption following bushfire damage to transmission lines between 13 and 19 January achieved a reported 200-300MW, United Energy’s data has revealed the booming interest in taking part in demand response.

United Energy’s Summer Saver program has activated three times so far this summer, on 18, 20 and 30 December 2019. Results show a 97 per cent participation rate – well above the previously accepted average for the program over six years between 75 to 83 per cent.

The customers, typically households, saved 8.6MWh across the three events, at peak times on constrained parts of the local network in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and the Mornington Peninsula, which sees ballooning population over the summer period.

The program works by asking participating customers to reduce demand by taking simple measures like turning their air conditioners’ temperature up and avoiding using high-energy appliances like dishwashers and washing machines. For their trouble, those customers get between $15 and $456 depending on demand reduction achieved.

The program also helps reduce risk to network outages such as fuse switch faults.

United Energy’s network suffered a large number of fuse switch faults under heavy load in January 2018, which resulted in thousands of customers off supply. Thanks to Summer Saver, United Energy has only had to deal with a handful of fuse faults during each event window so far.

United Energy’s General Manager, Electricity Networks, Mark Clarke, said while the program aims to reduce electricity demand on constrained parts of the local network, rather than achieve broad MW savings, the results show Victorians are eager to join in.

“The great thing about Summer Saver is that instead of conducting expensive upgrades to the network to accommodate just a handful of peak days, the program allows us to continue delivering a reliable power supply in an affordable way for customers,” Mr Clarke said.

The program, now in its sixth year, has rewarded a total of $535,789 to United Energy customers over this time.

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