Why ‘user pay’ power is the fairer-for-everyone future for marinas and yacht clubs

5/11/2021 News

Imagine if your residential electricity provider metered your whole street (or even block) in one go and billed the cost evenly between you and your neighbours. You’d be outraged, right? So, why do you expect your guests or members to tolerate the same model in your marina?

In the decade 2006-2016, the average cost of household electricity in Australia increased by 108%, despite a reduction in overall consumption. By offering your guests unlimited, unmetered power, you bear the full brunt of these spiralling costs and end up increasing berth fees across the board.

Your customers who use little or no power pay extra to help defray the cost burden of the big users – you know who they are: those who leave the aircon running 24/7, even when their vessel is unattended.

As an industry, we have to move with the times and offer all our guests and members a fairer, more equitable solution – a user pay power system. Our technology lets you do just that.

A user pay system works on many levels. It’s a clear market signal that makes people think about their usage. It raises awareness, provides instant feedback on individual usage and shifts costs to those who “choose to use”.

The broader benefits are an overall reduction in consumption, costs and carbon footprint.

The real kicker? Installing a user pay system creates an opportunity for you to make your marina or club business more competitive.

Case Study: Sale Motor Village

In 2013, Sale Motor Village installed our Orto-Mate® utility management system in what manager Leanne Murphy calls “the best decision we ever made”.

Before Orto-Mate® their average daily electricity usage nudged $9 per site. After installation, total consumption dropped by more than 60% to around $3.50 per site.

Management opted to lower base fees and add on a power charge based on actual guest usage for each site. Customers loved it. They could see where the costs were and knew they were being charged fairly

With the new fee structure, the Sale Motor Village could compete with the local showground camping facility and guess what? Occupancy rates soared.

A win-win solution

Do you know how much power your visitors are really using? Wondering if a user pays system might be right for your business? You can’t change what you don’t know, so why not do some research.

To gain an understanding of your power usage patterns, you can install sub-meters on a sample number of sites. Once you know your figures, you can assess the extent to which a user pay system will benefit you, your business and your visitors.

And while we’re talking research, it’s worth noting that regulations on charging customers for power differ from state to state. Check with the industry association for information about where you stand.

User pays power is a win-win solution. The only losers are the heaviest power users, the people who choose (for whatever reason) to buck the trend for reduced consumption.

By shifting the cost burden directly to the user, we do two key things. We encourage people to consider their usage behaviour and we give them the freedom to choose. And, surely, offering more choice to our customers is integral to shaping a more sustainable future for our industry.