Fairfield Electric Cooperative recently started a new Beat the Peak program, a free and voluntary effort to help control energy costs for all cooperative members.
Through Beat the Peak, members of the co-op can sign-up to receive alerts asking them to reduce their energy usage during critical periods when wholesale electricity prices spike. These times, known in the industry as “peak demand,” are when requirements for electricity are the highest, such as during some hot summer afternoons or cold winter mornings.
As with most commodities, when the demand for electricity rises, so do the costs. When the cooperative purchases large amounts of energy during these peak periods over the course of a year, it has a significant impact on the electricity rates the co-op and its member-owners pay.
The idea behind Beat the Peak is to shift energy consumption from times when demand is highest. Potentially, this effort can save the cooperative and its member-owners significant money over time by keeping the wholesale power costs low and stable.
Fairfield Electric has been managing peak demand for many years through its water heater load management program as well as voltage control. The Beat the Peak program has the potential to have a bigger impact on controlling demand costs.
When a peak energy use period is coming, the co-op will issue a Beat the Peak alert to program participants. Members can select to receive the alerts by text message, email or phone call.
During a Beat the Peak period, which will typically last only a few hours, members will be encouraged to reduce use of power-intensive activities. These are a few of the actions members can take:
Adjust thermostats by 3 degrees – moving higher during summer afternoons and evenings and lower during mornings in the winter.
Delay activities that require hot water, such as washing clothes, taking showers, or washing dishes.
Postpone using heavy appliances, like clothes dryers and ovens.
The important thing is that we are not asking our member-owners to altogether stop using certain appliances,” says Doug Payne, Vice President of Member Services. “We want to get them to consider shifting their use to different hours of the day to help hold down everyone’s costs. If we can work together, it’s a win-win for everybody.”