Off-peak pricing: Variable tariffs could cut WA power costs


Horizon Power have conducted a trial in the Pilbara where prices decreased as people adapted to using electricity at off-peak times.

Variable pricing is being considered by WA energy minister Ben Wyatt to combat rising electricity costs and demands on the state's power grid.

The McGowan government almost doubled the fixed price of connecting to the grid in July, pushing prices for consumers up 10.9 per cent, or $169 a year, in an attempt to claw back revenue to fill its budget black hole.

Mr Wyatt says variable pricing will encourage better use and lower bills over time.

"Like we use with our mobile phones, you get a better tariff structure...you can end up with lower bills," he said on Monday.

The electricity grid is designed to supply power during peak times but will require upgrades to cope with future needs.

If people switch to using off-peak it will reduce demand.

"More importantly it requires less upgrade of our power network," Mr Wyatt said.

However the cost of energy at peak time would become more expensive.

"It's about behavioural change," he said.

Horizon Power have conducted a trial in the Pilbara where prices decreased as people adapted to using electricity at off-peak times.

"It gives much more incentive to put your washing machine on at 9pm rather than at 5pm when it's peak time," Mr Wyatt said.

But he admits the transition to a variable system would take time, as Western Power would need to install Smart Metres in metropolitan homes and Synergy to convert to a competitive pricing structure.