Energy insecurity during temperature extremes in remote Australia

Author: Thomas Longden, Simon Quilty, Brad Riley, Lee V. White, Michael Klerck, Vanessa Napaltjari Davis, Norman Frank Jupurrurla

Year: 2021

Published in: Nature Energy

Indigenous communities in remote Australia face dangerous temperature extremes. These extremes are associated with increased risk of mortality and ill health. For many households, temperature extremes increase both their reliance on those services that energy provides, and the risk of those services being disconnected. Poor quality housing, low incomes, poor health and energy insecurity associated with prepayment all exacerbate the risk of temperature-related harm. Here we use daily smart meter data for 3,300 households and regression analysis to assess the relationship between temperature, electricity use and disconnection in 28 remote communities. We find that nearly all households (91%) experienced a disconnection from electricity during the 2018–2019 financial year. Almost three quarters of households (74%) were disconnected more than ten times. Households with high electricity use located in the central climate zones had a one in three chance of a same-day disconnection on very hot or very cold days. A broad suite of interrelated policy responses is required to reduce the frequency, duration and negative effects of disconnection from electricity for remote-living Indigenous residents.