Stage three of our Townsville battery and solar trial will explore the advanced functionalities of new home energy management (HEM) and battery systems, solar PV and a new tariff being trialled for the first time.

While previous stages of the trial achieved mixed results, Community Solar Engineer Dean Condon believes the third stage is an opportunity to see if the combination of all four elements provides a win - win for the network and customers.

‘We’ve installed new batteries including a Tesla Powerwall at participating homes as well new advanced home energy management systems (HEMS) connected to existing solar PV system installed in previous trial stages .

“The new HEMS are more advanced and with the batteries, will give us more control and the ability to provide real time information for customers to make decisions to reduce their energy consumption,” he said.

It’s not just new technology that is being trialled. At the core of the project is a new retail product – Tariff 14.

“It’s a seasonal time of use demand tariff as opposed to traditional energy tariffs. It has three components – energy charge, service fee and a demand charge. The demand charge is based on the average of the four top demand days in the month, with a higher rate for the three summer months,” explained Community Strategy Advisor Julie Heath.

“We believe this tariff together with the combination of the new batteries, solar and HEMS will give customers better price signals to take action and control their demand, avoid high cost impacts and therefore high bills,” she said.

Julie is working closely with the nine trial participants in the same street such as Barry Lowe who was one of the first to sign up to the original trial in 2011.

“We’ll work with participants to keep their demand for power as low as possible in peak periods. Some of this work is in the “set and forget” area where our participants review these tariffs with us and choose which tariff they would like their appliances on. For the trial, we have replaced Tariff 11 that powers appliances 24/7 with Tariff 14 which is a new tariff. They still have access to economy and off peak tariffs during the trial. We’re hoping to see lower power bills for participants as a result this trial," she said.

Image of Julie Heath and trial participant Barry Lowe

With a new Powerwall installed at his home, Barry is keen to continue to be involved in stage three of the trial.

Julie said the team will revisit Barry and the other participants half way through the trial to review their progress.

“It may be that we use the HEMS to control their demand – with their agreement – to give better result for both the network and our customers as functionality of the new HEMS we are using will continue to develop throughout the trial.

Stage three of the trial will continue throughout 2017 and into early 2018.