Careful assessment needed when comparing energy services

21 Sep 2015
John Bradley, Chief Executive Officer

It was disappointing to see Bruce Mountain again making flawed comparisons about the cost of energy services, under the Climate Spectator and Renew Economy mastheads.

It should matter that the initial installed cost of a battery which might have a life of 5 to 15 years depending on its usage profile is not comparable to the net present value of a perpetual distribution network service. 

Mr Mountain’s article includes no recognition of say, the replacement costs for a customer who decides to go off the grid. He does not mention the future maintenance costs or risks that a consumer going off-grid becomes responsible for. He includes no assessment of the premium expense involved to a customer investing in a standalone power system for the redundancy required to provide a level of reliability which is even close to being comparable to a network service.

No one doubts customers will increasingly assess alternative energy options including “going off the grid”. There are certainly opportunities for non-network solutions based on battery storage as an alternative to traditional poles and wires. This include in parts of geographically dispersed networks with low customer density like Ergon Energy.

That’s why these network businesses are already pursuing these options, as demonstrated by Ergon Energy’s investment in twenty 25 kW/100 kWh battery energy solutions to avoid expensive replacement of Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) lines in regional Queensland.

It would be a shame if these facts were ignored so that Mr Mountain can tell a good story.    

Twitter: @JohnBradleyENA