ESB Networks has enrolled 10,000 households in a scheme that offers financial incentives to customers for cutting down on their peak electricity usage.
The energy giant says it will now “ramp up” the scheme even further, working with influencers and carrying out extensive advertising to attract even more households to its pilot initiative.
Beat the Peak was proposed by ESB to the energy regulator as a “nationwide domestic behavioural demand response campaign” which, it said, would reward customers who reduce demand during peak times.
It developed the scheme on foot of the urgent proposals from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to change tariffs in the face of the significant risk to Ireland’s electricity supply in the near and future term.
CRU’s network tariff proposals also included getting rid of a 12-year-old Government policy whereby households helped to subsidise big businesses’ energy bills.
It has since emerged that customers were being overcharged above and beyond this measure, and the ESB has said that customers will receive refunds to the tune of €50.
The Irish Examiner reported in September that ESB Networks was planning to give out thousands of €30 vouchers to incentivise customers on the Beat the Peak scheme, where customers would be given personalised messages and real-time information such as “pop on the dishwasher now as it’s windy”.
It made an initial order of 60,000 of the €30 vouchers but has so far refused to say how many have been given out.
As part of its bid to have customers sign up for its pilot scheme to cut energy use, the company is going to step up its advertising campaign around what it dubbed “Is This a Good Time?”.
Ellen Disken, head of the National Network, Local Connections programme at ESB Networks, said: “We are rolling out TV, cinema, out-of-home and digital communications, to make sure that as many different groups of people as possible have the information they need to sign up.
"[And] we are working with influencers, so they can help us make the information useful and relatable to different demographics, and in particular the demographics who our research suggests are really struggling to find out how they can act.”
She said that, in trials so far, it had received an 80% response from customers to its peak events which is above industry norms.
“They are being provided with simple, relevant and timely information about actions which have a high impact on their peak demand,” Ms Disken said.
She added that further research would be undertaken to assess the effectiveness of different rewards, such as financial versus pro-social rewards like charity donations, and how different demographics interact with the scheme.
Ms Disken added: “Once the full results are in, we will look at how to apply them in a follow-on offering that focusses on how people can benefit from local renewable generation to reduce their carbon footprint and their costs.”