Smart meter users pay more for electricity during peak periods with corresponding reductions during off-peak periods

For SMART meter customers with usage-based electricity plans, peak-time charges can increase by 10 percent while incidental charges decrease by the same amount.

The increase applies to the key time of 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. when demand for electricity increases sharply.

This puts a strain on the supply and brings the most polluting emergency power generators into use.

The energy regulator, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), is urging electric utilities to find ways to encourage their customers to reduce their consumption at this time.

It has now announced a 10 per cent increase in network charges for suppliers during peak periods, complemented by a 10 per cent reduction in off-peak periods.

The intent is for suppliers to push these changes to their customers, although the CRU cannot insist on them.

“It is important to note that these are grid tariffs only and their impact depends on how electricity suppliers reflect these tariff signals in their retail charges,” it said.

The CRU emphasizes the incentive provided by the mitigation of off-peak reductions rather than the punitive effect of peak-hour increases.

With the increases applying to a narrow two-hour window, there’s hope that the prospect of cheaper power the rest of the time will outweigh the inconvenience of shifting high-drain tasks to other times.

At the household level, the number of customers with usage-based plans is very small, but the CRU hopes that if providers pass on the new fees, they could entice others to sign up.

The Irish Independent revealed last week that fewer than 38,000 customers, or just 4 per cent of those with smart meters installed, actually had usage time or smart tariffs.

The CRU estimates that the new fees could still add €41 to the average annual household electricity bill, but that is to be offset by removing a €40 subsidy that household customers have paid to support large energy consumers since the last recession.

Commercial customers, and particularly the large energy consumers such as manufacturing plants and data centers, have by far the greatest scope to moderate demand during peak periods.

The CRU urges electric utilities to use the new grid tariffs to push them in this direction.

The regulator said other measures would need to be put in place to spur changes in electricity use if the new fees didn’t have enough impact. Smart meter users pay more for electricity during peak periods with corresponding reductions during off-peak periods

Fry Electronics Team

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