Save power to avoid blackouts

Article on the BBC, here... "Households will be offered discounts on their electricity bills if they cut peak-time use on a handful of days over the winter, as part of National Grid's efforts to avoid blackouts."

These sorts of things are incredibly difficult to get right.

Punished for being proactive?

Some of us have already been proactive. I am a high user, but now have solar and battery. The hot tub (a big chunk of usage) is now on a timer so largely heating in the middle of the night, and easy to avoid the 4-7pm peak. I am also on a special battery tariff, so for example, my usage 4pm-7pm is actually about -30% of my daily usage (yes MINUS 30%, i.e. I export around 30% of my net daily usage 4-7pm).

Now, this means it would be physically impossible for me to use less 4pm-7pm, whether net (i.e. allowing for export) or just import (i.e. currently 0kWh usage).

So no way I can benefit from the Octopus scheme as I see it, unless I have misunderstood, as I cannot "improve" my peak usage.

Had I *not* been proactive. Had I left the hot tub on 4-7pm. Had I not run the battery like this. I could be easily making that extra £100 on offer. I am being punished for my being considerate and proactive - or so it seems. That feels wrong, somehow.

Other approaches

My understanding is that some providers are working on getting people to make their 4-7pm usage a lower percentage of their net 24/7 usage. That would work for me, as I already do that, assuming they would even cope with a negative percentage, maybe I would get more than £100, LOL.

Encouraging bad behaviour

I need to work out the "reference" period for saving. Even on the tariff I am on, it would not be hard to make my 4-7pm usage really high. It would not be hard for anyone to do that by running the washing mashing, and tumble drier (and I know most people don't have one, a hot tub), even electric water heating as many have that as a backup for gas. And, of course, if you have one (we don't) charging your EV.

If doing that for a few days before, then during the key days you move the power usage away from 4-7pm, you can get that bonus. For a lot of people "moving" the power usage has not extra cost, so why not.

This is a problem with any system that is "relative improvement". Make it absolute, e.g. usage below X kWh for the period per hours, or even less than % of net 24/7 household usage, and that may work, no need to force a high "reference" against which you are saving.

Not in the spirit of the scheme

One criticism of anyone adjusting their usage before these saving sessions to get a better reduction is that it would not be in the spirit of the scheme. Not "the right thing to do". Even Octopus said that on twitter.

Well yes, that is true, but the whole scheme is based on people doing "what makes them money" not "what is the right thing". There would be no need for any financial reward if people would "do the right thing", so yeh, you kind of have to expect that people, as a whole, will do what makes/saves them the most money - that is how people as a whole tend to work, even if individuals do sometimes do the right thing - it's the very basis of economics (from what I remember).


  1. I agree that it feels wrong and unfair, but arguably it would be a waste of money to subsidise people who’ve already been proactive like you – more effective to use the money on people with “room for improvement”

  2. Indeed. We deliberately run the dishwasher over night and the washing machine outside of the 4-7pm peak hours to "do our bit".

    I think the writing is on the wall for single rate electricity over the coming years. There will be the carrot for those who use less in peak hours and conversely a stick for those who consume in peak times.

  3. I've just signed up. I have a copy of the T&Cs if you want a copy? Here's the pertinent bit:

    "To be eligible for payment, you must opt-in to the Session before it begins, and reduce electricity import as measured by your smart meter compared to a “Baseline” during any of the half-hours of the Session window."
    "We will calculate your Baseline using the BSC P376 'Utilising a Baseline Methodology to set Physical Notifications' with an in-day adjustment for domestic customers, and without an in-day adjustment for business customers. This methodology looks at up to 10 days of your recent smart meter history, excluding days where a Session has taken place, to calculate your average consumption."

  4. The point of this scheme is to persuade someone who would otherwise have been part of the problem, to instead not be part of the problem. Your argument sounds a bit like "they're increasing the penalty for murder to act as more of a deterrant, but I didn't want to murder in the first place".

    What's the current situation for variable export? In your situation can you not "earn" more by exporting from your battery during a peak period?

    1. I am exporting all I can. But I get the same whatever time of day I export. My concern is that this whole idea is predicated on people doing something that will make them most money not on people doing the right thing. If the latter then no reward would be needed. So they should expect that people will find ways to create a high export and then reduce it, to make extra money.

    2. It's predicated on the companies having the choice between paying (guesswork) 120p per kWh for additional supply at peak times, or paying customer 50p per kWh to reduce their demand. You're quite right that it's a dubious method of measuring reductions in individual household demand, but this is still an experimental system. I can't imagine that many people are in a position or have the dedication to game the system, and the companies have sufficient data to spot dodgy behaviour if they want to and refine their strategy.

      A better system might be to have agile tarrifs for everyone: here's the price for 1700-1730, take it or leave it. Or progressive pricing - in each 30 minute window first kWh is 25p, next is 40p, next is 60p. 2000 W ought to be enough for anybody ;). But that's "chuck out the system and start again" thinking from me.

  5. Really they should just offer a reduced tariff before or after the period they want the reduction to encourage people to shift their usage to outside the peak hours.

  6. Last I heard, there was so much LNG being shipped into Europe that the tankers were having to queue offshore waiting to unload their gas. So I wonder why we are still facing the threat of blackouts. Is it that our infinitely-incompetent government have decided that WE can't import gas, even though the rest of Europe apparently can?

    1. Because they're queuing because Europe doesn't yet have remotely enough LNG gasification capacity to handle the amount of gas they need to tide them over, not because there is in some way too much gas. Germany is building multiple gasification plants, but it takes years to do so. Britain? Well, we're working on bringing the Rough storage facility back into use (which apparently takes us three times longer to do than it takes anyone else to do the same thing, but at least it'll give us storage -- empty storage -- comparable to the rest of Europe again rather than only 3% of what everyone else has), and that's, uh, it as far as I can tell.

  7. So...Charge the battery between 4 and 7pm for the next few days to show a high baseline. Then when there's a period where you can be paid for using less, charge the battery outside that period and run off battery for the relevant period. You can game the system because you've been proactive. (I'm in the same boat)

    1. The problem with that is that the 'savings day' is only being announced the previous day. Also, it may not be 4 to 7pm. This is what Octopus is saying: If the Session is on a weekday, we’ll look at your half-hourly usage over the last 10 weekdays (excluding saving session days). If the Session is on a weekend, we’ll look at your half hourly usage over the last 4 weekend days. These half hourly averages are then subject to an ‘In Day Adjustment’ which will make adjustments based on how much energy you’ve used on the day of the session.

    2. 15 kWh (Tesla battery) consumed between 16:00 and 19:00 at 32p per kWh (my current Octopus tariff) for 10 days comes to £48, and gives an average of 2.5 kWh in a 30 min window. Their press release suggests "~25 events (1-2 per week) at an average £4/kWh". Let's say you hit four 30 minute events for every 10 days of preparation and reduce to zero in those periods, so 10 kWh below your baseline, giving £40 of payments. Doesn't work.

  8. I came to the same conclusion, I have a power usage pattern that doesnt fit into the norm, my peak time usage doesnt just shoot up so I will be in the low peak time user category and will likely make nothing more than pennies on this scheme, I feel a better way would have been to just reward everyone on the scheme who's peak time usage falls below a certain % of their full day usage without using baseline's first.

  9. I assume that as you're on Octopus, you've worked out that pushing out as much export as possible during a "saving session" is the way to go?


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