Retailer Energy Locals has teamed up with technology startup Enosi to offer an energy-sharing scheme where excess solar generation can be traded between customers at prices set by the individual members.
“We believe in a world in which customers can deal with one another and bypass the often disliked process of dealing with traditional energy companies,” says Energy Locals founder and CEO Adrian Merrick.
“We’re lifting the veil on a deeply distrusted industry and giving customers transparency and control over pricing.”
Under the partnership, customers can negotiate the sale of excess solar energy at rates they individually agree upon, thereby taking pressure off the grid and eradicating hidden energy provider fees.
As one example, they say kids moving out of their parents’ solar-equipped home into a non-solar rental property could be gifted excess solar power from their parents.
The buyer will still have to pay about half of the normal price for power due to fixed transport, infrastructure and environmental costs.
The new trading service incurs no extra charge for Energy Locals customers, who pay $4.50 a week memberships fees.
“We’re giving people who have invested in solar a way to set the price they’re willing to sell the excess at, while giving customers without solar a way to buy it. A pleasing side benefit is the ability for customers to bypass traditional energy companies,” Merrick says.
Merrick says about a third of Energy Locals customers own solar systems, above the NEM average.
“We have a lot of interest from solar customers in peer-to-peer,” he told EcoGeneration. “At the moment they know they are getting a feed-in tariff that may be below what they feel is fair value. This gives them the control to set the minimum price they are wanting to sell their export at, and if someone else is willing to pay that price they have a match.”
He emphasizes the peer-to-peer capability might not immediately become a hot tool for profit-seeking electricity day-traders, but rather be of interest to customers who have friends and family they want to trade with.
“They might set a lower rate, for example, for someone they wanted to give a good deal to. We know there are family groups who would love to do that sort of thing, where some own solar and others don’t.”
There is no single rate for electricity under the program – the price is agreed upon by members.
“Some solar users feel as though they are getting ripped off when selling their power. They want to give their excess to a person and not a power company,” Merrick said.
The platform is blockchain-based, to guarantee each unit of energy can only be traded once. As they set prices, users will be able to see network and distribution charges that can’t be avoided. If the seller sets the price to “donate” level, the buyer will be charged the wholesale component.
“The networks will still clip the ticket on the way through, unfortunately,” Merrick says. “The platform will tell you that.”
Members at registered properties will need smart meters to trade.
Energy Locals and Enosi are inviting customers in NSW, southeast Queensland, South Australia, ACT and Victoria to participate in the program.