A NEW group formed to fight for lower prices in the energy industry has demanded the State Government shelve plans to remove clean and affordable electricity.
Western Australians for Lower Power Prices has vowed to fight bad energy policies being considered by the Barnett Government.
Members include small, medium and large WA businesses and the Australian Solar Council.
Business owner Carlo Scamuffo of South Guildford said he would be badly affected if the plans to remove clean and affordable Demand Side Management (DSM) technology from WA’s electricity market were implemented.
His business, an electrical consultancy firm, services businesses across the eastern suburbs of Perth and the Avon Valley region.
Mr Scamuffo said he feared many of the big electrical users in the region would be forced to cut jobs or funds to grow their business if Energy Minister Mike Nahan progresses government plans to cut DSM.
Mr Nahan said DSM had only been used eight times since 2005-06 for testing and that was the reason for launching a review was that it had not been used that often.
“I will ensure that the correct incentives are in place to drive an effective and efficient contribution of DSM in the WA electricity market, without increasing electricity supplies, or casing higher emissions from power stations,” he said.
But Mr Scamuffo said DSM was a smart back-up power system where large users of electricity were paid to switch off during times of peak demand, freeing up electricity capacity without the need to generate extra power.
“I work with multiple businesses across the region to help them improve their energy efficiencies. Many of these local businesses use DSM to support our power grid in a clean and innovative way,” he said.
“The horticultural industry is one example where it is not always easy to set up power infrastructure in an energy efficient way. However, DSM allows the industry to play an important part in reducing pressure on the power grid.
“If DSM is removed from the electricity market we will see the end of an innovative energy efficient product which is popular with many users as a way to make their business operations cleaner.”
DSM is an alternative to building and using power stations and under the program, companies commit to reducing their power use when required by adjusting lights, appliances, heating, ventilation and airconditioning, fridges and freezers, generators, pumps, motors and other manufacturing equipment.
There are currently 300 WA businesses who take part, and they receive payments for agreeing to cut their power if required.
Western Australians for Lower Power Prices spokesman Richard Wilson said removing DSM from the electricity market would see WA business lose the ability to receive payments for providing electrical capacity to the grid, and householders bear the brunt of increased energy costs.
“Cutting this clean and affordable, smart back-up power system will cost WA an extra $107 million each and every year in additional power costs. This is equivalent to household power bills increasing by $105 per year,” Mr Wilson said.
“I call on all MPs to raise this issue with Mr Nahan and the Premier. It makes no sense to cut this innovative technology in favour of the alternative, which is generating additional energy from fossil fuel power stations in order to meet demand during peak times.”
Mr Scamuffo said DSM was vital for many local business owners and without it the industry would miss out on playing its part in contributing to WA’s energy system.
“If demand in Perth rises, then those businesses signed up to DSM switch off their power to relieve pressure on the grid,” he said.
“This is an efficient and clean way of providing power to the grid at exactly the time it is needed. These businesses use the DSM payments to pay for maintenance on their equipment, upgrade their infrastructure and employ more people.
“Business owners and staff feel like they are making a difference with DSM. They like supporting the grid in a clean way, reducing demand on it in times of need.”
Mr Nahan said he did not expect energy prices to increase in the wake of the review into DSM.
“Rooftop solar would be built on nearly every home and business in the state as consumers took matters into their own hands,” he said.
WA has some of the best solar resources on the planet, which could save millions if the government could embrace it.
Mr Nahan wants the capacity market subsidy removed, and his first initiative from the energy review will be to announce the retail market, currently run by Synergy, would be opened up for competition, although a time frame was yet to be announced.