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LPEA ‘Time-of-Use’ periods adjust for winter on Sept. 15

La Plata Electric Association customers participating in the WattWatcher ®“Time-of-Use” (TOU) program are reminded that on-peak, off-peak times adjust for the season, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011.

From Sept. 15 through midnight May 14, 2012, the “winter” off-peak (lower rate) hours are daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., plus all day Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In an effort to help avoid construction of additional power generation plants and stabilize the electrical grid, LPEA encourages its members to consider signing up for the WattWatcher® program. The TOU program rewards participants with lower rates for using electricity during “off-peak” hours.

TOU rates take into consideration seasonal “peak” electrical use periods. LPEA’s wholesale power supplier, Tri-State Generation & 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. Time-of-use rates are $0.044 (4.4 cents) per kilowatt hour during off-peak periods, and $0.15 (15 cents) per kilowatt hour during on-peak periods, with a base charge of $14.50 per month. In contrast, the regular rate is $0.104 (10.4 cents) per kilowatt hour with a base charge of $13.40 per month.

“Most people don’t really think about it, but LPEA works very hard at ‘managing’ the electricity everyone uses to help avoid things like the ‘brownouts’ we’ve heard about in metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles,” said Mark Schwantes, manager of corporate services. “Those happen when customer demand for electricity is greater than what the power company can supply. If people can shift their electrical usage to the ‘off-peak’ periods, it helps even out the flow and keep everyone in power, as well as help decrease demand for additional power generation.”

Currently, more than 4,850 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 $1.4 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.

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 irrigation pump — during the off-peak hours. Also, installing programmable thermostats and timers on water heaters, or changing out the home heating source to electric thermal storage (ETS) units, maximizes the TOU benefit.

“Time-of-use is not for everyone,” said Schwantes, noting that not every household can structure its lifestyle to take advantage. “But it can cut down on the monthly electricity bills. Some of our area golf courses are even taking advantage, ‘powering up’ their electric golf carts during the low-cost, off-peak periods. It’s creative planning, or what we’ve said in years past, ‘thinking outside the bulb.’”

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