In an effort to help stabilize the electrical grid and avoid construction of additional power generation plants, La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) encourages its members to consider signing up for the WattWatcher® “Time-of-Use” (TOU) program. The TOU program rewards participants with lower rates for using electricity during “off-peak” hours.
Time-of-Use rates take into consideration seasonal “peak” electrical use periods. LPEA’s wholesale power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, charges LPEA less for purchasing electricity in off-peak hours. LPEA then passes that savings on to customers who have signed up for the WattWatcher® program. The off-peak rate of 4.4 cents per kilowatt-hour on the WattWatcher® program is considerably lower than the regular residential rate of 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour.
“Most people don’t really think about it, but LPEA works very hard at managing the electricity everyone uses to help avoid things like brownouts,” said Mark Schwantes, manager of corporate services. “Electricity, once it is produced, is something that can’t be stored, so it helps the entire system — because electricity is in increasingly shorter supply — to shift demand for power to the ‘off peak’ periods.”
Currently, more than 4,750 LPEA customers in La Plata and Archuleta counties are participating in the TOU program. According to Schwantes, LPEA’s customers have now shifted so much of their electrical usage to the preferable off-peak periods that collectively they have exceeded $1.3 million in savings.
“Our TOU customers should be very proud. In essence, they have helped LPEA lower ‘the electric bill’ by more than $1 million,” he said, noting that as more residents sign on, the greater the impact in dollar savings and efficiency of the electrical grid.
“Use of electricity continues to grow around the world, presenting new challenges — how do we, at La Plata Electric, meet this growing demand for electricity?” said Greg Munro, LPEA CEO. “Not too many years ago, LPEA’s mission and goals focused on how to increase our sales of electricity. Now, our mission and goals center on energy efficiency and using the electricity generated more effectively. The time-of-use program is one way we all can benefit.”
To take full advantage of the TOU program, customers are urged to use those appliances that draw the most power — such the dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer or self-cleaning oven — during the off-peak hours. Installing timers on water heaters or changing out the home heating source to electric thermal storage (ETS) units, maximizes the TOU benefit.
“Just as our family adjusted our habits to recycle, we now watch how and when we use electricity,” said Dan Harms, LPEA systems engineer, who has signed up for TOU at his home. “But the interesting thing is that it hasn’t been difficult at all, and it’s cut our electric bills dramatically.”
The LPEA seasonal off-peak hours for the summer take effect May 15; thus, from May 15 through midnight Sept. 14, the lower cost hours are Monday through Friday, 10 p.m. to 10 a.m., and all day Saturday and Sunday.
For further information, TOU customers or those interested in signing up for the cost-cutting program are encouraged to call 247-5786 or visit www.lpea.coop.