Photo credit: Albatross/Flickr

BRIEF – A new research project aims to improve the economics of local energy generation for Australian consumers.

The University of Technology Sydney has announced it will conduct trials of Virtual Net Metering and Local Network Charges at five sites in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

The research conducted by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS has received $250,000 in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Virtual Net Metering allows consumers to reduce their electricity bill by generating electricity at one site and using it at another site. Local Network Charges are tariffs for electricity generation that only use part of the network and in many cases could reduce the network charge portion of electricity bills for local generation.

Project Director Jay Rutovitz said his team would  investigate how market changes could help consumers and businesses benefit from local generation by providing alternatives for customers who might otherwise choose to disconnect from the grid or use “behind the meter” options.

Byron Shire Council general manager Ken Gainger said Virtual Net Metering would enable the shire to use electricity generated from solar PV at the sports centre and supplement power at the nearby sewage treatment plant.

Project sponsors other than the Australian Renewable Energy Agency include: UTS, Moira Shire, Swan Hill Rural City Council, Ergon Energy, City of Sydney, Wannon Water, Byron Shire Council, Willoughby City Council, Powercor, AGL, the NSW Renewable Energy Advocate and the Total Environment Centre.

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