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Climate change concerns affecting electricity consumption?

13th Mar 2012

Over recent years, there has been a national slowdown in the growth of electricity consumption, which could be due to a number of factors.

A report from the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) established that the public is becoming more energy-conscious, therefore leading to a greater uptake of solar panels.

Milder weather and changes to the economic landscape have also had an impact on demand for electricity across eastern and south-eastern Australia.

Matt Zema, AEMO managing director and chief executive officer, pointed out that the drivers of these changes vary quite considerably between states.

"However, it is becoming apparent that electricity consumers are changing their energy use in response to rising electricity prices, adopting energy efficiency programs and the installation of rooftop solar photovoltaic systems," he commented.

With the exception of Tasmania, higher reserve conditions have been seen across all regions as a result of falls in predicted maximum demand.

Mr Zema indicated that in Victora, a deferred Low Reserve Condition is likely to emerge in light of a lower forecast for maximum demand, which in theory could postpone the need for investment in generation.

For many Australians, the rising cost of electricity is a major cause for concern as they desperately seek to lower their outgoings.

A survey from Neilsen identified that 70 per cent of people in Australia reduced their use of household energy in a bid to save money during the final quarter of 2011.

Of those polled, 59 per cent believed their personal finances will improve over the course of the next year, compared to 52 per cent in the rest of the world.

Keith Orchison, director of Coolibah consultancy and editor of Powering Australia yearbook, recently identified that efforts are being made by the regulatory system to keep electricity prices down.

This has been in place since the east coast market began in the late 1990s until the middle of the last decade - although it was not necessarily known as the Australian Energy Regulator.

As a result, this has had an impact on the necessary investment for replacing ageing equipment, he told Climate Spectator, which could put the reliability of supplies under threat.

He explained that appliances are becoming more energy efficient, which has helped lower demand for electricity while also keeping household finances in check.
Posted by Mike Peacock

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