Townsville, Australia --- (METERING.COM) --- October 7, 2010 - The Queensland government-owned Ergon Energy is launching the first major trial to better understand how peak demand tariffs influence electricity consumption habits in the state and has begun recruiting volunteers.

The reward based tariffs trial, a joint initiative between Ergon Energy and the Queensland energy supplier ENERGEX, will offer eligible customers in selected areas of Toowoomba, Brisbane and Cairns up to Au$300 (US$290) in incentives to take part in the study over the next two years.

The aim is to better understand how varying electricity prices at different times of the day may be used to encourage customers to alter their electricity usage, especially during the 15 peak demand days of the year – usually hot summer days, but occasionally in winter when demand for heating spikes – between the hours of 4 pm and 8 pm.

The trial will also incorporate a time-of-use consumption tariff, which will feature a 20 percent discounted rate for energy used between 8 pm and 8 am.

Increased demand for electricity has significantly contributed to the rising cost of electricity prices in recent years as more infrastructure has been required to service the demand. Alternative pricing models, such as reward based tariffs, could help to encourage customers to use electricity outside peak demand periods and reduce infrastructure costs.

“The trial is designed to reward people for using electricity during off peak times of the day,” said Ergon Energy’s manager regional services, Dave Heberlein. “We hope by changing tariffs during peak periods that it may encourage customers to think a little more about their energy consumption.”

Households involved in the trial get a one-off Au$50 sign up payment and up to Au$125 a year in incentive payments if they use less power during peak times (up to Au$300 total).

Advanced electronic meters will be installed at participants' homes, at no cost, which will record electricity usage in half hourly intervals.

Customers will receive information about the trial's theoretical electricity prices and will be encouraged to change their electricity usage patterns to receive the reward incentives.