Origin trialling tech to help customers track energy use across appliances

After being summoned by the government to discuss rising electricity costs, the Australian energy retailer has announced it will trial a solution that will enable households to monitor energy use across appliances.

Australian energy retailer Origin is gearing up to trial technology from California-based startup Bidgely that enables consumers to track their energy usage across various home appliances.

The technology analyses data from an electricity smart meter, providing an estimated breakdown of a household's energy use into different appliance categories such as heating, cooling, lighting, refrigeration, laundry, cooking, and entertainment.

The data from the smart meter is also combined with weather data to provide personalised alerts at different points during the customer's billing cycle.

Customers are able to compare energy use across billing periods, while receiving tips on how they can adjust their energy use.

Origin will initially trial the technology with 5,000 customers in Victoria.

"Until now, it's been difficult to provide customers with information about what may be contributing to their energy bill, as the technology was costly," Tony Lucas, executive general manager at Origin Future Energy, said in a statement.

"Bidgely's solution is simple, intuitive, and just the start of the energy revolution that will change the way customers interact with energy in the home."

The project is one of the first being run out of O hub, a new Melbourne-based workspace dedicated to prototyping, developing, and trialling new customer solutions. The workspace is shared with Australian startups.

The announcement comes less than a week after Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull summoned seven energy retailer chiefs and the Australian Energy Council to Canberra to discuss rising electricity costs.

During an interview on ABC Radio, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said he hoped the federal government would not have to introduce legislation to better control electricity prices.

Origin and Innogy, along with other parties, set up Free Electrons, a global accelerator program for startups working on renewables, smart grids, electric vehicles, and home energy management.

Origin also established a presence in Palo Alto, California to gain better access to Silicon Valley's startup community.

Fellow energy retailer Energy Australia has also been working with renewable energy startup Redback Technologies on the rollout of the latter's Smart Hybrid Solar Inverter System, which combines a solar inverter, solar battery, and cloud-based energy management software into a unit that can be mounted inside or outside the home.

The Brisbane-based startup received a AU$9.3 million investment from Energy Australia in October last year. Redback has since secured AU$1.42 million from Queensland government-owned electricity distributor Energy Queensland and AU$540,000 from government initiative Advance Queensland.

In July, local energy retailer AGL announced a $10 million strategic investment in California-based smart home startup August Home. AGL said the investment is part of a broader innovation strategy, allowing the company insight and access to new connected home technology.

Updated 8.45am AEST 9 August 2017: Parties involved in Free Electrons accelerator updated.

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