Victorian electricity networks launch $0 network tariff in the middle of the day

22 July, 2022

Households could pay nothing for electricity network charges in the middle of the day and save up to an estimated $100 a year, by participating in a new tariff trial offered by electricity distributors CitiPower and Powercor.

The ‘Daytime Saver’ trial, limited to 27,000 customers and available between 1 July 2022 and June 2026, is designed to test if time-based price incentives will encourage customers to shift their demand.

CitiPower and Powercor General Manager Regulation, Renate Vogt, said one of the biggest challenges associated with the transition to greater renewable energy generation is to educate customers about the benefits of using more power in daylight hours when energy is abundant and lower cost, instead of during traditional evening peaks.

“This type of tariff is an important way of ensuring all customers have equal access to the benefits of renewables,” Ms Vogt said.

“Customers without rooftop solar are actually expected to be the ones this tariff trial could suit best.”

The innovative tariff encourages customers to set timers or use major appliances between 10am and 3pm, when the network charge offered is $0.  These appliances include pool pumps, heating or air-conditioning, dishwashers and washing machines.

Electric vehicle owners without rooftop solar could also benefit, with savings predicted of up to $132 a year when at least one third of the vehicle’s charging is shifted from between 3pm and 9pm to between 10am and 3pm. That’s on top of the savings available by shifting use of their household appliances to daytime hours.

The Daytime Saver network tariff has been made available for energy retailers to offer to customers as part of their electricity price plans.

Ms Vogt said tariffs are just one of the levers that the distribution networks are using to manage the change in energy flow and demand arising from more distributed energy sources.

Other initiatives developed by CitiPower and Powercor include the introduction of neighbourhood batteries for energy storage, studies into electric vehicle charging behaviour, research with solar customers into flexible export services and demand management programs.

“We’re working to ensure all forms of distributed energy resources whether its solar, batteries, smart appliances, electric vehicles or future innovations, are integrated efficiently and flexibly in a distribution system that benefits all customers,” Ms Vogt said.

Across the Powercor network, more than 175,000 households or 23% of residential customers have a solar system installed on their properties as of the end of May. This follows a 16% increase in 2021.

The Electric Vehicle Council’s Head of Energy and Infrastructure, Ross De Rango, said the trial presented a huge opportunity for EV owners, especially those without solar at home.

“Many EV owners have solar at home already and charge their cars during the day when they can, but not everyone can put solar on their roof as easily as they can buy an EV.  This program will encourage EV drivers without solar to help the networks maintain stability, while reducing emissions and saving money – a triple win,” Mr De Rango said.

“One of the key long-term challenges in transitioning the vehicle fleet to electric is managing the impact on the energy networks.  Incentivising EV drivers to charge their cars in the middle of the day when there’s generally plenty of solar, or the middle of the night when there’s generally plenty of spare network capacity, is a pathway to improved network performance and reduced energy costs for everyone”.

The potential for Daytime Saver to be extended post 2026 will be assessed as part of CitiPower and Powercor’s Electricity Distribution Price Review process for the 2026-2031 period.

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Background on projected savings

 The Daytime Saver trial is designed to help soak up abundant rooftop solar energy in the middle of the day and would suit customers who don’t already have solar and are able to shift lots of their electricity usage to between 10am and 3pm, where networks charges would be zero.

For example, a typical customer who moved about a third of their energy use to the middle of the day would save around $100 a year in network charges. This might include setting timers on pool pumps, heating or air-conditioning, dishwashers and washing machines.

Electric vehicles owners may also benefit, with additional savings predicted of up to $132 a year provided households moved at least one third of their vehicle charging to between 10am and 3pm.