Meet the scientists trying to keep power bills down

The men and women battling heatwaves and some of the world’s highest power prices as they run our Electricity grid.

Sky-rocketing power costs and the threat of blackouts are among the greatest fears of all Australians.

But behind the scenes some incredible science – and people – are desperately trying to keep the lights on and your bills down.

Finance Editor Ross Greenwood got an exclusive look at our energy grid.

3 ways to save on power bills:

How many times, as a kid, were you told to turn the lights off?

Well the boss of Australia’s energy grid says if you want cheaper bills, start doing the same thing.

“I’m obsessive about it. I don’t turn on lights and I only use the air conditioner for a few hours and then I turn it off,” says Audrey Zibelman – CEO Australian Energy Market Operator.

So, as well as generating more, part of the solution for lower bills is to use less at peak times.

“It takes stress off the system, it reduces demand and so we don’t have to have these high prices. In the end consumers win,” Zibelman says.

Innovative measures are being used, like paying the biggest users not to use power at peak times.

“They could be aluminium smelters, paper mills, it could be data centres,” Zibelman says.

There’s no doubt that AEMO headquarters is one of the most important rooms in all of Australia.

Because it’s from here that the electricity that flows to 9 million households, from Port Douglas in Queensland to Port Augusta in South Australia – 5000 kilometres – is controlled.

Because every time that you turn on a switch, this room has to make sure there is enough electricity for you.

From here operators control 300 power stations; wind farms; gas generators, hydro, even the new Tesla battery in South Australia.

And coal-fired power stations hundreds of kilometres away.

“Bayswater will just come on and they will switch it on and we will drive it from here.”

That electricity – instantly – is transmitted and used thousands of kilometres away. But the hotter it gets, the more we use, and pressure builds on the grid.

“We are certainly more vigilant where we see forecast temperatures above 35 degrees.”

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