Delmarva to roll out incentives aimed at cutting peak power use

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(Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part report on Delmarva Power. Next week, Delmarva President Gary Stockbridge talks about smart meters, the recent rate increase request, smart meters  and other issues).

Delmarva Power is planning a summer rollout of  programs  that will use its smart meters, smart thermostats   and other technology in a bid  to reduce electricity consumption during hot weather. Click here for detailed information.

The effort  has been in the works for some time as Delmarva  installed  smart meters and an online My Account system  that offers customers  detailed information on power consumption as well as an online payment option.

The Peak Energy Savings Credit will take up to $80 off a bill  for residential and small commercial customers who use a system that automatically cuts consumption to an air-conditioning or heat pump via thermostat or outside box.

The Energy Wise Rewards program will credit bills for reductions in energy use during peak periods.

The goal is to reduce energy consumption during the hottest weather. Such periods trigger premium prices as expensive  peak power generating units are fired up.

The hot weather  also puts a strain on the electric grid and can lead to brownouts or blackouts.

Gary Stockbridge, president of the Delmarva Region for Delmarva Power’s parent Pepco,  says the program allows customers to reduce their energy consumption and save money  in the process.

The number of days when the peak cycling takes place varies with the weather. The average runs around a dozen days, but last year came totaled one, Stockbridge says.

Stockbridge says signing up for the program works well for customer and Delmarva. During hot days, Delmarva will not have to buy as much expensive peak demand power. That cost is passed along to customers.

“We don’t see a downside,” Stockbridge says of the program.

Delmarva is ramping up marketing efforts to let customers know more about the program, in the form of bill stuffers, media interviews and advertising.

Such programs have worked elsewhere in cutting peak consumption.

Delaware Electric Cooperative  reports its “Beat the Peak” program has already improved load factor performance during a trial period according to demand comparisons with other generation and transmission cooperatives.

In a 2008 trial, the program saved members $2 million. The program uses a notification device that lets the customer know it is time to turn up the thermostat. The program has since been expanded to included an app for Android or iPhone use.

In advance of the peak energy program, small business and residential customers can check MyAccount for detailed information on power consumption, Stockbridge says.

In some cases, a small business owner may be able to discover that equipment or lighting is using electricity at periods when it is not in operation. – Doug Rainey

 

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