You’ve probably heard that Americans use more electricity than the power grid can support on hot summer days. Well, those days are here again — and a number of utility companies around the country are offering you cash to be a part of the solution during peak times.
Most people agree that managing demand for electricity during peak times is key. (It doesn’t make sense to build expensive pollution-generating power plants that we need only a few days out of the year.) Demand response programs — which reduce electricity use during peak times — have been successful in commercial and industrial settings. Now, residential programs are being created. Check with your electric company to see if you’re eligible to participate in a program.
Most of these programs involve technology that allows the utility company to cycle your air conditioner on and off during peak demand. This means that on the hottest days of the year, from around noon to 7 p.m., the power company will cycle air conditioners off for a period of time each hour. (Your air conditioner will not be off the entire time period. The temperature in your home may raise 2 degrees, if that.) With enough people participating, the power company can ensure that every participating house has some air conditioning but that not all of the participating homes are using their air conditioning at exactly the same time — thereby relieving stress on the power grid. Many of these programs are only in effect on weekdays, when overall demand is highest and most homeowners are at work anyway. Some programs allow you to opt out of participation on a specific day.
Examples of incentives to participate in peak energy management programs:
- Georgia Power’s Power Credit program: Participants get a $20 credit for signing up and an additional $2 credit each time the service is used.
- In Pennsylvania, PPL Electric Utilities offers the E-power Peak Saver program: Participants can earn $32 for each central A/C or heat pump unit in their home — and you get the credit for each summer you participate.
- In Texas, CPS Energy offers frvee Peak Saver thermostats (valued at $300) to participants. The company installs the programmable thermostat for you. A programmable thermostat can save you money if programmed correctly — and this thermostat can even be controlled remotely, so you can adjust the temperature if you forget to change it before you go out of town.
[NOTE: customers only have a choice in two states. The industry is highly regulated.]
Participate in the continuing efforts to reduce your community’s electrical demand, especially during peak demand times such as hot, summer days and help keep electric prices reasonable for everyone.