Energy tariff costs reduced by 15%

Energy tariff costs reduced by 15%

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We’ve been working for a while now with a large agribusiness, who have extensive pumped irrigation operations on a series of properties in northern Victoria. Previously we looked at the viability of solar PV and pumping, but during the analysis we noticed there were several weeks where the pumps were being operated during peak cost tariff hours (7am – 11pm, working weekdays) when there was ample scope to move this into offpeak time periods.

When you consider that while there are 80 hours per week for peak tariff costs, there are even more (88) hours that are at off-peak rates that are half or less in cost. Therefore, it makes sense to move as much as possible of the peak-period consumption into the offpeak consumption period.

We spent time taking care to consult with the operators, and to find out how they chose when to operate their pumps. We found that the system was largely automated, operated remotely with handheld tablets or smart phones, and that apart from a few short periods in the year when extreme temperatures dictated continuous operation, there were numerous opportunities to shift consumption. We also found that the operators “had bit of an idea it would be cheaper overnight” but didn’t have the knowledge to work out if it was really worth it, or if it might adversely affect crop yields.

After recruiting support from the management team, agronomists and operators, we ran a trial over the 2015/16 summer and achieved 15% savings in electricity costs – without any costs for upgrades or new technology, and (possibly) improved yields. The practice has now been embedded into their standard operating procedures so that the savings can be locked in for future years.

As a side benefit, the operators also reported taking a keener interest in their personal energy consumption, and were delighted with being able to use the same principles at home.

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