A new app that allows people to monitor their power consumption and pay their bills using a mobile phone-style plan is the "way of the future", according to Energy Minister Ben Wyatt.
The MyPower pricing plan is being rolled out in the northern WA towns of Broome and Port Hedland — and the State Government says it's only a matter of time before the infrastructure and retail model is rolled out in the south.
"This is the future of power in WA, as it just means people will be able to consume power, and buy power, according to a plan much like their mobile phone, with much more control and choice," Mr Wyatt said.
"Clearly this is the way for Western Australians to take more control and also have a better understanding of their power bills."
Using the app, Horizon Power customers can monitor their electricity usage through the installation of so-called "smart meters" in households across WA's north.
The app is linked to a more flexible model of pricing, which allows people to earn rebates by using less electricity during peak times.
Instant feedback on power-guzzling
Horizon Power managing director Frank Tudor said a trial run in Port Hedland earlier this year showed monitoring power usage motivated people to switch off unnecessary appliances.
"We're giving people instantaneous feedback on a phone app, so they're actually seeing how their energy consumption is going and can take immediate action," he said.
He said some households were able to reduce their power bills by as much as 20 per cent.
"It is a good result, and means the incentive is there for people to be disciplined and get the signal about what their consumption at peak time means, and actually take action and be rewarded through that process," Mr Tudor said.
"So it is a virtuous cycle with short, medium and long-term benefits."
Mr Wyatt said he was expecting strong interest from the rest of the state about accessing the system, but the necessary infrastructure would need to be constructed first.
"You need the network and the infrastructure there before you can have the retailer implement it," he said.
Solar renewable trial offer discounts
A second pilot program underway in the Kimberley is also giving hope to consumers wanting to cut down their power costs.
Twelve homes in Broome are being selected for a renewable power program, offering a heavily discounted solar power system capable of saving households more than $2,000 a year.
Landcorp acting chief executive Kerry Fijac said the scheme, developed in conjunction with Horizon Power, was the first such trial in WA.
"We are offering a heavily discounted solar energy renewal package, so for a $5,000 investment they can get up to about $35,000 worth of solar panels, appliances and battery storage," she said.
"Over the course of two years they can expect to save $2,500 a year, ensuring there's a payback."
Resident Stuart Horne and his family were the first to sign on, with appliances such as air-conditioners and hot water systems hooked up to a powerful battery storage system linked to rooftop solar panels.
"Hopefully we'll save money… bills are quite expensive in Broome and we've got a young family now, so every dollar counts," he said.
"So far we've been offsetting about 50-60 percent of our usage, there's an app we can track it on.
"An average bill for us is about $1,000 every two months. If we can offset that by 50 per cent, that's a huge saving,"
The program will be monitored over two years to see what impact it has on power bills and relieving pressure on power supply at peak times.