Alan Kohler is one of Australia’s most experienced business commentators. Alan has been a trusted source of investment advice to Australians for many years, and in 2005 he founded Eureka Report - Australia’s #1 online investment report. Along with Robert Gottliebsen and Stephen Bartholomeusz, Alan also founded Business Spectator, the popular business news and commentary website. Alan is the regular finance presenter on the ABC News and producer of the popular nightly graph (or two).
The electricity laws in Australia already require network companies to consider network and non-network solutions, and the trend is against network solutions. They'd be wise to take a stake in people-driven energy solutions.
If excess solar exported to the grid could be directed to offset another premise's consumption - even beyond ones in the same apartment block - more people could share in solar's benefits. Virtual net metering provides the way and would also help with electric vehicle recharging.
The alliance against rooftop solar appears to have been thwarted thanks to a grass roots campaign. Power companies are now scrambling to embrace solar via bundling it with power and other smart appliances - an old idea dreamed up by environmentalists. But has its time finally come?
Last week the Energy Market Commission put forward a rule change that after decades of ineffective promises could finally get electricity network businesses to help their customers reduce peak demand, instead of building more infrastructure.
In the US, the average home size has grown by 20% since 1980 and there are more of them. But technologies such as appliance standards, building codes and energy labeling have offset more than 70% of energy consumption growth.
There are several technologies emerging that can cut average household energy usage by as much as 90%. Combined with solar, batteries and internet-enabled controls the future is the prosumer. AGL says they want to drive the revolution, so why are they trying to undermine it?
Already, China's recharging stations are incompatible with Tesla and BMW. The world needs to work quickly towards some sort of standard setting, and government-drawn rules might not be the best option.