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Conserving Energy During Times of Peak Demand

As we anticipate colder temperatures to return to our area over the next few days, we would encourage our members to conserve as much energy as possible during "peak" times of the day.  Peak power refers to the time of day when there is the most demand for electricity, requiring more power from the electrical supplier. This extra power to supply the peak demand — the electric utility industry’s equivalent of rush-hour traffic — is when power costs skyrocket. When costs to the power supplier increase, costs to the consumer increase as well.

Traditionally, peak times include the hours from 5-8 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. This is because people are waking up in the morning, taking showers, turning on TVs for the news, using hair dryers, and cranking up the coffee maker and skillet for breakfast. Then in the afternoons, they are coming home from work or school and again adjusting the thermostat, turning on TVs, cooking dinner, washing clothes and using computers. 

During the hottest part of summer and the coldest days of winter, temperatures and humidity create a seasonal demand for more energy. Over time, your cooperative sets higher and higher peaks, creating the need to purchase capacity that is more expensive. Although our summers are hot and humid, Pea River Electric continues to set a winter peak — the most electricity used at any one time of the year.  This is why we encourage our members to conserve as much energy as possible when winter temperatures fall into the teens and 20's.

Wholesale energy pricing depends on this peak demand. The wholesale power supplier must be able to produce enough power to supply the peak or demand, even though that same peak load is not used continually throughout the year. The same goes for Pea River Electric, which must be able to supply consumers with the amount of power required, even though it may only be needed a couple of times a year. And that is why peak power is the most expensive power, because our wholesale power bill for the entire year is based on the maximum amount power used on any given day.  And in our case, that one day of peak demand usually occurs on the coldest temperature day that we experience during the winter.

Keeping the electric demand (or peak) down will reduce the need to purchase expensive capacity and over time should help keep our rates lower. In addition, the greater the demand for electricity, the greater the impact on our natural resources and our environment. Keeping the system peak down is not only economically desirable, but also environmentally prudent.

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