Summer heat can mean higher energy prices as demand from air conditioners, pool pumps and freezers put pressure on our energy system. 

If you’ve lost sleep over your summer energy bills or worse, the risk of blackouts affecting your bottom line, we’re here to unpack what actually happened to the energy market this summer.

Looking back at this summer

Much like last summer, warmer conditions and bushfires put the heat on the energy market. In the lead up to warmer weather and on hot days, you may have even heard about how the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) was working to ensure the lights stayed on.

So, how did this past summer stack up against last year’s? Let’s take a look at what actually happened this summer:

  • 4 December: NSW hit the market price cap
  • 19 December: SA hit the market price cap 
  • 24 December: Victoria’s Loy Yang A generator experienced installation issues after returning online
  • 30 – 31January: Victoria saw market events 
  • February: A number of thermal – generators were offline in VIC, NSW and QLD


February’s weather was noticeably cooler, which resulted in less demand on the system, compared to the previous year.

Unlike last year, market events caused by high demand and warmer weather didn’t see the energy market reach the cumulative price threshold (CPT) either. This occurs when the rolling seven-day sum of the 30-minute trading price breaches a defined threshold. 

This is a rare event but it did happen last year on January 25, 2019 for the first time in a decade.

While the energy grid may have felt the heat this summer, it was much better prepared to tackle the challenge of balancing supply and demand on hot days this year. 

But that doesn’t mean that we don’t need more energy users, especially businesses, to get behind ways of managing their energy to help the energy system over warmer months.

So, what does this mean for businesses?

The highs and lows of the energy market are an opportunity too. For businesses, knowing how and when to use power – and acting on it – can create savings or avenues to earn revenue while doing the heavy-lifting to keep the lights on for everyone.

When demand on the system can affect reliability,  the AEMO calls on businesses to power down by triggering the Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT).

This supports the reliability of the grid when it needs it most. In other states, such as New South Wales, AEMO may call upon businesses to participate in its ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) demand response program instead.

Step up to support the system

RERT and ARENA are programs that reward businesses for stepping in to support the reliability of the energy system. 

Here’s the lowdown on each program:

  • RERT: AEMO engages businesses that can provide reserve energy on short and medium notice by powering down or off in return for financial rewards.
  • ARENA: An initiative set out by AEMO to reduce emissions and create a smarter approach to energy security. As part of this initiative, ARENA’s demand response pilot aims to provide a reserve of dispatchable power and smooth out peak price events, much like RERT
  • Building Intelligent Demand Response: Flow Power is giving South Australian businesses the opportunity to automate demand response, as part of the SA Government’s Demand Management Trials Program 

Businesses can tap into the ARENA demand response, RERT, and the Building Intelligent Demand Response SA trial program through Flow Power and gain access to tools, such as the kWatch Intelligent Controller®, to simplify or automate their demand response.  

For more information on how you can do manage energy use, including demand response to help with the reliability of the network, and your bottom line, call us on 1300 08 06 08.

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