What’s the problem?
New Zealand’s electricity networks are built to supply the maximum amount of electricity that the country can consume at any given point in a year. Peak demand periods usually occur in winter, when extra heating is required, and when people are home most - between 7am-9am and 4pm-6pm.
This means that for 98% of the time, we are all paying for a system which we are only using a small part of.
Is there a solution?
Expanding the capacity of the networks owned by companies like Powerco is costly, but has to be done to ensure we can deliver a reliable electricity supply all at times. The more we need to spend on increase capacity, the more the lines charge in your electricity bill will rise. A lot of network upgrades can be avoided or delayed if the height of peaks in demand can be reduced.
The electricity system could run more efficiently if the amount of electricity being consumed was constant.
Smart meters and appliances give us the ability to reduce the size of peaks over the day. But you can also help. If we could spread our electricity use more evenly throughout the day, we could help New Zealanders save money on their electricity bills. Click here for ways you can save electricity and money.
By using electricity more evenly over the day, demand becomes more predictable and eliminates the need for extra generators when maximum capacity is reached.
Using extra generators are inefficient and expensive, whether they are powered by water (hydroelectricity), steam (coal, gas or geothermal), diesel or even wind.
The additional generation contributes to more carbon dioxide emissions at coal and gas fired power stations. At hydroelectricity plants, water that could be better conserved for drier periods is wasted.
Transmission and Distribution
The National Grid is designed to deliver electricity at the maximum demand and is mostly underused.
Click here to find out more about the New Zealand electricity industry.