Sunshine tariff trial launched to incentivise daytime energy use

  • metering

    The Sunshine Trial will use smart metering to see how consumers could save money on their bills by adapting to a cheaper daytime rate. Image: Customer-led Network Revolution

A new trial project will investigate if homeowners are willing to change their electricity usage to suit a low daytime tariff in a study that could provide new evidence of the positive role solar generation could have on household bills.

The Sunshine Tariff will be offered to residents in Wadebridge in North Cornwall, where a low rate of 5p/kWh will be offered to participants between the hours of 10am to 4pm. A high rate of 18p will be applied at other times, with the cheap tariff applied during the day when the sun is powering solar panels.

The project will be run between April and September 2016 by Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN), RegnSW and Tempus Energy, which is offering a flat rate of 13.4p between now and the end of March 2016. The study will use smart metering technology to see how much domestic customers could save by changing their electricity usage patterns to take advantage of the low daytime rate.

Sara Bell, chief executive and founder of Tempus Energy, said: “The UK has huge potential to drive local demand for cheaper renewable power. By creating a true price signal, we want to see how the Sunshine Tariff will influence customers’ energy use.

“Unleashing competition and customer choice is central to the UK's future energy system; it creates subsidy-free markets for renewables, cuts costs and carbon for all customers and keeps the UK's lights on.”

Around 4,300 homes in the Wadebridge area are eligible to take part in the Sunshine Tariff trial, with the project looking for a total of 240 volunteers across four groups. Each will receive differing levels of support, ranging from tips and advice to the use of smart controllers to allow devices to be switched on and off in the home remotely.

The town was chosen due to the increased uptake of solar PV across the south-west region in recent years. Professor Stephen Frankel, chair of WREN, said: “Wadebridge has made a lot of progress in taking advantage of local and locally owned renewable energy, with about one in ten homes having installed solar panels. The Sunshine Tariff is a great opportunity to spread the benefits of solar more widely to local people.”

The trial will explore the potential to connect solar in grid constrained areas when the local community is incentivised to shift energy use to the sunshine hours, using a cheaper tariff to reduce pressure on the grid.

According to Western Power Distribution, the administrator of the Network Innovation Allowance being used to fund the project, matching demand and generation locally would allow the network to be utilised more efficiently and potentially allow for the connection of more generation.

Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW, added: “This ground breaking project will explore smarter ways for local people to really access the value of their local renewable energy resources. If we can enable local people to match up their energy use with local energy generation, we will address a key barrier to communities being able to generate and use their own power and provide greater control over energy bills.”

WREN says its Sunshine Tariff has been designed to save consumers more than 60% on their bills when using electricity between 10am-4pm compared to using it at other times. Interested residents of Wadebridge have until the end of February to sign up to the trial scheme to give time to switch supplier and have smart meters installed.

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