Demand Response is a hot topic in the Australian energy industry. Its inclusion in Dr Alan Finkel’s report, “Blueprint for the Future: Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market” has given it much-needed credibility. The collaboration between ARENA and AEMO, launching a Demand Response (DR) initiative to secure 160MW of DR capacity has made it very real. Vendors are entering the market at pace. Energy retailers, network businesses, and energy aggregators seem to be announcing new pilots every other day. Despite all this activity, there is not much talk about customer experience.
For those of you that follow my blogs, you will know I am a strong supporter of Demand Response having introduced it into Hong Kong a few years ago. I know that success or failure depends on how well you engage the customer and the community.
When I look at the Australian Demand Response market today, I see energy retailers exploring demand response to improve their position in the wholesale market. I see network businesses keen to see how demand response may help them optimise their infrastructure investments. I see energy aggregators wanting to secure demand response load so they can sell it to both retailers and network businesses. All organizations need the energy consumer, large and small, if they are to secure demand response load.
If we need the customer to succeed, then we need to take a step back and think about their experience. Imagine the following examples:
- A customer signs up with an energy retailer who installs a piece of DR technology. A few weeks later a network business engages the same customer to offer DR services. Won’t this leave the customer confused?
- How about when the customer says yes to both, only to find out the technologies are not compatible. Wouldn’t that cause frustration?
- What happens when a customer wants to move to a new energy retailer? Does energy retailer A manage the supply of the customer’s electricity, and energy retailer B demand response?
There are many more examples, but you get the point.
Demand Response can and will have a major role to play in Australia’s future energy mix. We are in the very early stages of piloting, and we will navigate our way through many of the challenges. Australia has a unique market structure. Should we bring together a group of experts to create a set of rules that place the customer at the centre of our evolving demand response framework?
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