Multiple electricity services at your door

Wouldn’t it be good if you could purchase your electricity from one electricity retailer but sell your solar generation (or battery storage) to a different one? Or maybe be part of a community energy scheme that also allows you to continue accessing electricity from your normal retailer when the community scheme doesn’t provide everything you need.

Maybe, when you buy your EV and get a charger installed, there is a specialist EV charging company that can provide very cheap power for EV charging through a deal it has with a large global EV manufacturer whose leader likes space travel?

How is this different from what we have now?

Well, as some of you know you normally only have one retailer for your household electricity. So the retailer you buy electricity from (import) is the same one who you sell electricity to (export) if you have solar. Or if you want to sell your excess solar-generated power (or give it away) to friends or family, all parties need to be with the same retailer and the retailer has to offer such a service (some do, most don’t).

That is the logic behind the Multiple Trading Relationships trial being run by Ara Ake with support from the Electricity Authority (the electricity regulator).

The purpose of the trial, in Ara Ake’s words, is to;

“expand the range of choices of suppliers and services available to consumers, particularly in the context of greater uptake of distributed energy resources (DER) like rooftop solar panels. It provides potential benefit to consumers from the unbundling of electricity services and the creation of new ones, and may result in the achievement of emissions budgets at lower overall cost.

A “trader” is the Electricity Participation Code 2010 term for a retailer, generator or purchaser. In our context, it’s the person/organisation the provides electricity sale/purchase services at the point of connection of your house to the electricity network. This is where you find your meter which measures your import/export of electricity for the purpose of billing. So having multiple traders means many (well, more than one) electricity service providers using your meter to settle your purchases (imports) and generation (exports) as well as other new services yet to emerge.

Behind the billing is quite a complex settlement system that balances up what the trader has purchased from the market and what was delivered by the transmission and distribution system to your meter. So having multiple traders means that the settlement system has to cope.

So along with traditional industry participants such as retailers and electricity distribution businesses participating, other interested parties will be able to trial new business models and offer new services to consumers. We expect to see owners or operators of DER (distributed energy resources: solar, batteries, electric vehicles, ‘load’, etc) and new innovative electricity entrepreneurs participating.

The actual trial is about the market settlement aspects of having more than one “trader” but an extra benefit is that these DER owners will be able to demonstrate how the flexibility of DER can offer solutions and benefits to New Zealand’s electricity system as we electrify transport, increase our renewable energy use and ultimately reduce our carbon emissions.

Multiple Trading Relationships is a small step in the direction of a flexibility market, where the flexibility of the distributed energy owners (or operators) will be able to offset the rapid need for strengthening our electricity infrastructure.

A flexible power system is a cheaper power system!

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