Energex proposes ban on use of batteries, AC units & other white goods during ‘off-peak’ periods

Queensland government-owned network operator Energex has proposed banning battery storage, air conditioning and appliances such as washing machines and clothes dryers from off peak loads in a move that has stunned the solar and storage industry.

The proposal – which was at first presented as decision – was announced in an email to electricians and rooftop solar installers, and energy experts are struggling to see the logic in it.

Sources told RenewEconomy that the response was so savage Energex had advised the rule changes would be withdrawn by the end of the day, and only re-introduced after proper consultation with the industry.

That was then confirmed by a new email from Energex, clarifying it was only a proposal, and apologising for the confusion.

The industry says the proposed changes would bring to an end decades of efforts of trying to shift consumption away from peak demand.

And they pointed out that it made no sense to exclude battery storage from off-peak loads, but at the same time allow electric vehicle batteries – as the load looks exactly the same to the network. And why allow another form of storage – hot water – and not batteries?

Some suggested it may be a sign of panic in the network industry in the face of the biggest changes to energy demand in a century, or  just a ruse to increase peak load and give the network an excuse to push the case for yet more poles and wires.

“I have been in this business for 35 years and I am at a complete loss to explain why Energex has done this,” said Mike Swanston, a consumer advocate who was a long-serving senior executive at Energex. “I cannot understand why they would make this ruling, and why there was no consultation with industry to change a decades-old practice.”

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson