About a year back, we predicted that the new electricity tariff will shock people into changing behavior: “the currently proposed tariff structure will create “bill shock” among consumers, and nudge a certain percentage of consumers to voluntarily reduce demand. But this will be insufficient.”
The evidence is in. It has happened. The 2013 Sri Lanka Central Bank Report states:
Electricity consumption in the ‘Domestic’ sector decreased by 1.0 per cent despite the increase in the number of consumers by 4.5 per cent, largely reflecting enhanced energy conservation practices implemented in response to increased electricity tariffs. Sales to ‘Hotel’ and ‘General Purposes’ categories increased by 5.0 per cent and 5.2 per cent respectively, reflecting the continuous growth in the tourism industry and other business activities. Meanwhile, electricity consumption in the ‘Industrial’ sector increased moderately by 1.9 per cent.
The above does not tell us whether the decrease occurred at the peak (where it is needed), or in the valleys, where it can be unhelpful as the big generating units come online.
Now is the time to follow up what we said further:
b. To reduce demand further, and specifically to reduce peak demand, PUCSL should require CEB to carry out a campaign with specific messages reminding consumers that peak time has started (via TV/radio/and less frequently via SMS), and provide information about which energy-consuming appliances should be turned off for maximum reduction in demand at that particular moment in time.
c. Taking a step further, positive behavioral change can be brought about by informing consumers about how their monthly bills (i.e. their energy consumption) compares to other/similar households. In particular, targeted messages printed on the electricity bill of high-consumption households stating that they are paying X rupees more than similar households have proven to be effective in several countries. A redesigned and more informative electricity bill appears a necessity.