Peak-time electricity consumption must be reduced to avoid blackouts, the energy regulator has warned.
The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has ordered electric utilities to find ways to dampen the surge in electricity demand, which occurs between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily.
If this does not happen, the security of supply is at risk, they say.
It also said costs will rise for all customers as the cost of ramping up generation and buying power to meet periods of high demand escalates.
The warnings come at a time when customers are already reeling from repeated price hikes and bills that have skyrocketed over the past year.
In a document sent to electricity companies today, the CRU says there will be serious challenges meeting demand for electricity this winter.
“There is a significant risk to the security of electricity supply in Ireland in the coming years,” it said.
She blames the situation for: “the closure of large power generating units, failure to deliver new contracted power generation, accelerated deterioration of the existing fleet as it responds to intermittent wind generation, and significant demand growth in a number of sectors of the economy.”
As aggregate demand increases, it says 62 percent of the projected increase in demand through 2025 will come from a small number of so-called extra-large energy consumers (XLEUs), from which it singles out “particularly data centers.”
“This confluence of risks is not directly caused by any particular sector.
“However, the significant growth in demand for XLEUs cannot be overlooked, and the CRU believes it is important to take the necessary actions to influence the behavior of customers driving demand,” it said.
The CRU proposes a series of changes in tariff usage policies for large energy consumers to encourage them to change their demand patterns.
But there will also be an impact on domestic customers.
Those with smart meters using smart tariffs, or “time-of-use” tariffs, could see further increases in their already higher peak-time rates, offset by further reductions in off-peak rates.
Those with smart meters who are not yet using smart tariffs are being pressured by their suppliers to switch.
The majority of households still lack smart meters and fluctuating peak and off-peak tariffs, so it will be more difficult to get them to delay unnecessary use of electronic devices beyond the 5-7pm period.
But electricity companies are being told they need to find ways to encourage behavior change.
Otherwise there is a risk of power outages and increased network charges, which apply to all customers, regardless of which meter or tariff they have.
The CRU said it will not speculate on what ideas and initiatives electric utilities might come up with because they have until September 1 to act on them.
Commenting on the tight response timeline, the regulator said: “The CRU acknowledges that it has not had the necessary time to analyze the proposals developed in detail, but it is considered prudent to take action now.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/threat-of-tea-time-blackouts-and-price-rises-if-peak-time-electricity-use-does-not-fall-41921653.html Tea-time power cuts and price hikes threaten if power consumption doesn’t fall at peak times