The following letter was submitted to the Australian Financial Review on Friday 5 February 2016.

The use of electricity during peak periods continues to be problematic, but the solution needs more innovative thinking than complete deregulation (“Let competition rip in power”, 5/2).

This would simply give power companies free rein to slap their customers with a complicated new tariff they do not want or understand.

Behavioural economics research by CSIRO shows that successful and enduring reform needs more than just a price signal and a mandatory compulsion. There needs to be an enduring benefit for consumers, and this is certainly not true in all cases with this issue.

Solar power and storage help to take load off the power grid during peak periods, yet for some reason they have been framed as a problem that needs to be discouraged.  Homes and businesses should be free to take advantage of these technologies to help them lower their power bills, not end up wrapped up in red tape or hit with arbitrary charges.

The Victorian Government has given customers the power to change electricity tariffs to a peak demand system if they want to. This means that power companies need to engage with their customers and package up a user-friendly offer that customers ultimately choose because they understand the benefits. That’s hardly unreasonable.
Darren Gladman
Clean Energy Council, Melbourne