Voltage is a Market Issue

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Deregulation / Restructuring Discussion: - Energy Utilities in the 21st Century : One Thread

I have been lobbying the Australian electricity regulators for several months on this issue.

Increase the voltage 5% and you can increase cash flow 4 or 5 per cent too!

But is it unethical? Should the regulators stamp it out?

I say "yes" for all urban customers. See my web site at http://www.suburbia.com.au/~mickgg (this is a non-commercial, unfunded personal web site, and I do not provide energy consultancy services for payment)

-- Michael Gunter (mickgg@suburbia.com.au), October 06, 1999


A couple of months ago an article of mine was published in issue #68 of "ReNew" magazine.

As the four page article sets out fairly clearly my voltage thesis, I have put a free PDF copy on the web here:

(148 kB)

-- Michael Gunter (
mickgg@suburbia.com.au), October 06, 1999.

Try again: mickgg@suburbia.com.au), October 06, 1999.

You will just have to cut and paste this URL:


-- Michael Gunter (mickgg@suburbia.com.au), October 06, 1999.

Interesting concept, and interesting website, Michael - please keep us posted. I'll take a look at your paper, then I'll comment if I have anything intelligent to add to the discussion.

I can't get away from the equation, V x A = W, though. If voltage increases, then does not current decrease? Wattage should be constant - voltage and current would be the variables. Example: a 60W light bulb at a constant frequency is going to burn at 60W, correct?

Just thinking out loud - kind of like a petrol distributor rigging the gas pumps, eh?

-- Rick Cowles (rick@csamerica.com), October 06, 1999.

Hi Rick,

Ohm's Law is very simple, but the trick is knowing how it applies to various AC loads.

Very simply loads can be one of two types:

1. constant power loads, in fact utilities love to lie and tell us that all loads are like this. Such things as electric ovens with sensitive thermostats, switch-mode power supplies (e.g. your computer), and some induction motors. The power consumption (over time) is unaffected by voltage. Increase the voltage and current will decrease to maintain a fairly steady power consumption.

2. "Voltage-squared" loads (power is proportional to voltage-squared), such as lighting (fluoro, sodium, mercury and incandescent), electric blankets, most plugpacks, VCRs TVs (on standby) clock radios, any appliance with a clock in it, fan heaters, radiators (without thermostat, or in a room too big for the thermostat to ever reach the set point), etc., etc. The list goes on and on. With most of these appliances, a 6 per cent voltage increase (say 240 volts to 254.4 volts, will result in a 6 per cent current increase, and a 12.36 per cent power increase. This can be extremely beneficial to utility revenue, cash flow, etc. If your utility is providing +6% voltage at night, it is also a great benefit to coal and nuclear power generators, who are less likely to have to desynchronise, if the utility can use high voltage to artificially inflate electricity "demand" (consumption) by up to 12 per cent. On publicly available evidence, I believe that my state is running at an average voltage about 3 per cent above nominal, and this could be easily costing customers around $50 million a year in inflated power bills. The excess greenhouse gas emissions are also considerable.

See my presentation to an Australian regulatory authority - the Office of the Regulator-General, www.reggen.vic.gov.au

See also my article from ReNew magazine.

-- Michael Gunter (mickgg@suburbia.com.au), October 09, 1999.

Achtung! Voltscommissar.net

Since my recent postings, I have registered a catchy domain name


It has a public access log file http://voltscommissar.net/log.txt where you can see the IP address of all visitors to the site....

...and look who has been visiting:

The voltscommissar.net web site is getting hits from Bolivia, Italy, Singapore, USA, Canada, Portugal, UK, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia. Maybe other places too.

In the past few days, I have had hits from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (www.nrel.gov) the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory (www.lbl.gov) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (www.pnl.gov), as well as from some major academic institutions and electricity corporations.

Maybe they are at last starting to give some credence to the "voltscommissar" and his message of corporate rip-offs!!

-- Michael Gunter (mickgg@suburbia.com.au), October 21, 1999.

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