Promoting change throughout energy systems using economic incentives - A novel approach to electricity billing to improve The City of Summerside’s energy security and reduce its carbon emissions
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With energy demands increasing rapidly, energy suppliers are struggling to keep up. Upgrading the existing systems comes with an enormous price tag for the supplier, who in turn must recover these costs by increasing rates to the consumer. Not only are the supplier and consumer strained by this solution, but the environment suffers as well, since roughly 80% of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels. In order to ensure that resources will be available to meet the needs of future consumers and to protect our fragile environment from depletion and pollution, it is critical that changes occur now. Maintaining a balance in the energy system consisting of the supplier, the consumer, the government and the environment needs to be achieved in order to ensure energy security. To do this, each stakeholder’s needs must be determined and taken into consideration. Primary research confirms that currently, the consumer’s biggest concern is affordability, while the supplier’s is reducing production cost. The government sets policies and guidelines that must be met to protect all stakeholders, while the environment often takes the brunt of our collective actions. The objective of this thesis is to determine the viability of promoting behavioural change in consumption habits in order to reduce the amount of electricity used, shift on-peak loads to alleviate the need for costly upgrades, and to encourage the use of renewable energy sources. By inviting consumers to participate in a supplier endorsed survey to determine their main concerns and motivators, the goal is to develop a customized billing system for the supplier that will motivate consumers to reduce energy usage. In turn, this alleviates the strain on the existing system, substantially reduces costs to the end-user, encourages the use of alternative energy, and protects the environment. This model is tested using a case study on The City of Summerside, Prince Edward Island.