Mr Jonathan O'Dea MP (Davidson, NSW) kindly sent me the following article (ABC News, August 15, 2011, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-08-15/power-consumption-makes-historic-drop/2839394):
One of Australia's largest electricity distributors says it is experiencing a "historic" cut in households' demand for power.
Ausgrid, which provides power to much of New South Wales, has announced demand for its electricity by regular households has fallen 2 per cent each year for the past four years.
It is the first time the company has seen a fall in demand since the 1950s.
"If you go right back to the 1950s, residential consumption has continued to rise year on year, and in around 2006, we saw that plateau," Ausgrid energy efficiency specialist Paul Myors said.
Ausgrid says the drop is caused by consumers switching to energy efficient hot water systems and light bulbs after seeing their power bills go through the roof.
"One example where we have seen most strongly is with residential hot water because we often separately meter this in households," Mr Myors said.
"We've seen reductions even greater than 2 per cent, even up to 8 per cent per year," he said.
It is expected the Australian Energy Market Operator will also announce a fall in power demand of 5 to 6 per cent in the next decade.
In a Renew Economy article from February 8, 2012 (http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/a-generators-nightmare-low-prices-less-demand-88124), Mike Sandiford had this to say:
Demand for electricity traded on the National Electricity Market – or the NEM – declined in 2011 for the 3rd consecutive year and is now down 3% since 2008.
With industry analysts predicting 2-3% annual growth rates over the period, demand is down almost 10% on expectations.
Partly we are seeing the impact of energy efficiency measures, such as pink batts, and distributed generation like rooftop photovoltaics. We are probably also seeing some price sensitivity entering the market.
At an average of 5.7 gigawatts, 2011 demand in Victoria was down 2% from 2010 levels and almost 4% from 2008. Similar scenarios played out in NSW where demand is down some 2.7% since 2008, and Queensland where demand has softened by 3% since 2009.
Of course a faster drop in power consumption would be nice, but in a world where we are used to predictions of ever increasing electricty demand, this is indeed good news!
More recently from Mike Sandiford, June 27, 2012, in the Climate Spectator, here.
"In 2009/10, demand fell in real terms by 140 megawatts, in 2010/11 by 250 megawatts and in the last 12 months by 480 megawatts. Compared to 2008, demand is now down by 930 megawatts, or almost 4 per cent. Compared to the forward projections of just four years ago, demand is down by a whopping 3.5 gigawatts or 14 per cent. That is the equivalent of three big power stations we thought we would need, but no longer do.
Demand is falling because of a range of factors.
Energy efficiency programs are biting. Distributed generation such as PV is taking share from the market and there is growing awareness amongst consumers that we can reduce energy consumption significantly with little effort or discomfort, and save money. In the face of rising retail prices, we are finally seeing some pricing elasticity."