Grid on the Edge: Queensland Govt with PeakSmart switched off thousands of home air conditioners six times in the last 8 weeks

Grid on the Edge: Queensland Govt with PeakSmart switched off thousands of home air conditioners six times in the last 8 weeks
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The following post, focusing on PeakSmart, is syndicated from


You will own nothing and be hot and bothered

Welcome to modern Australia where the grid is so fragile, poor people have to buy air conditioners that the government can remotely switch off.  Such is the state of decay that Queensland no longer has enough electricity to allow the riff-raff to have air conditioning whenever they want it — only the rich can do that.

The state energy companies of Queensland offer customers up to $400 cashback when they buy an air conditioner, but in return they allow the government to reach into their homes and turn off the air conditioner when the grid is in trouble, which it seems is a lot lately. It was only supposed to be a “few days a year”.

It’s a way to manage the grid — think of it as 170,000 mini blackouts instead of one big one:

Energex remotely cuts power to 170,000 air conditioners six times in a month

ABC News

Queensland’s state-owned power grid remotely turned down almost 170,000 air conditioners six times in the past two months as part of a scheme to protect the electricity network.

So this is where someone owns a Hi-Tech instrument designed to keep them cool, that they can’t use on the hottest days of the year. They call this the PeakSmart scheme (so you know it’s stupid). Gone are the luxury days when consumers could control their own appliances, get cheap reliable electricity, and not need invasive, complicated schemes in order to keep some of their own money.

It also allows the energy companies to send people into your home to “visit” for afternoon tea, or rather, to check you haven’t ripped out the PeakSmart controller boxes. They will give you five days notice. Nice of them, eh?

If you like your air conditioner you can keep it (but you can’t use it…)

Ergon and Energex said PeakSmart limiting should only occur “a few times” per year.

There have been six events since December 1 and nine in the last year — the highest rate since the program began.

On Monday and Saturday last week, Energex used its remote access to limit 169,490 air conditioners to run at 50 per cent power between 4:20pm and 6:50pm across the south-east.

The part I like best is when they tell us that you won’t notice anything different about having a compressor that is only running on half strength, but they won’t tell you when they are cutting your air-con (in case you do notice). Somehow they cut your cooling in secret but find the time to tell the company you bought the air conditioner from, just in case you not only notice but call out a repairman.

Users are not told when their unit is affected, but installers and repairers are given notice in case customers report what they think is a malfunction.

Renters or new property owners may not realise their units are fitted with the device.

Multiple installers contacted by the ABC said they were wary about the meters and the potential for the government and energy providers to control an appliance in the home.

Up until now, the riches of the rich were gradually spread to the poor. Have we reached the point when that reverses?

Image by Ari Galang Udayana from Pixabay

Find more blogs from Joanne Nova here.

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Joanne is a former Australian Nine Network TV Host, Writer, Speaker and Author. Joanne is a regular expert guest around the world specialising in climate change and science communication. Her writing regularly appears in The Australian newspaper, The Spectator magazine and now here on The Aussie Wire.