Save energy but be careful not to save too much

Feb 27, 2012 | Energy and Carbon, Environment, News | 0 comments

It’s sometimes hard to keep blogging on a regular basis but when a state body scores an own environmental goal, the job is made so much easier.

Apparently, Electric Ireland (owned by the ESB and therefore a state owned company) is now penalising electricity customers for not using enough electricity (Irish Times). Where a customer uses less than 2 kWh a day, a low use standing charge will be introduced.

My view is that low use is to be encouraged, not penalised. This certainly sends out the wrong message at a time when everyone is being urged to reduce energy consumption. The new message is therefore ‘ save energy but be careful not to save too much’.

Obviously there are costs associated with supplying electricity to users and this is traditionally recovered by a combination of a standing charge and unit charges. The standing charge is intended to recover the fixed costs and the unit charges the variable costs. If these charges are not sufficient where usage is low, then the model used is wrong. The model should then be corrected to increase the standing charges with a corresponding reduction in unit charges. This is fair and is the correct model to encourage energy efficiency.

The Irish Times article further quotes an ESB spokesman who gives examples of how 2kWh might be consumed by various appliances. One of the examples is having four 60W bulbs running for 3 hours a day. The first person who emails me showing how this makes 2 kWh a day, will have a donation of €100 to the charity of their choice.