They sell electricity at an hourly rate. Here’s an example:
The interesting bit is the predicitive aspect: you get a predicted price for the entire day ahead, which means you can plan your consumption! A win-win all around, since that sort of behavioural adjustment is probably what the energy company wants in the first place. Their concern is always (only?) the peak.
Is this our future? I’d definitely prefer it to “smart” grids taking decisions about my appliances and home. Better options, letting me decide whether to use, store, or pass along the solar energy production, for example.
Here’s another graph from that same site, showing this year’s trend in the Chicago area:
It’s pretty obvious that air-conditioners run on electricity, eh?
But look also at those rates… this is about an order of magnitude lower than the current rates in the Netherlands (and I suspect Western Europe).
Here are the rates I get from my provider, including huge taxes:
You can probably guess the Dutch in there – two tariffs: high is for weekdays during daytime, low is for weekends and at night. Hardly a difference, due to taxes :(
Here are the rates for natural gas, btw – just for completeness:
No wonder really, that different parts of the world, with their widely different income levels and energy prices, end up making completely different choices.
Solar panels are currently profitable after about 7..8 years in the Netherlands – which is reflected by a strong increase in adoption lately. But seeing the above graphs, I doubt that this would make much sense in any other part of the world right now!