Beating the peak

Posted on Jul 30 2018 in LaGrange County REMC

Mark Leu

Most of us don’t think twice about electricity. We plug something in or switch something on and the current flowing through the wall does what we need.

However, obtaining power and delivering it to your home or business is not quite so simple. It becomes even more challenging during the warmest and most humid days of the year.

LaGrange County REMC doesn’t generate the electricity you, our members, use. We buy it from the wholesale power market through Wabash Valley Power Association, a fellow cooperative that works with other local electric co-ops to obtain the best prices and most reliable supplies available. Throughout most of the year, that process works very well.

But when temperatures are high, getting that electricity to members becomes a bit more complicated. Members use more power on those days — for everything from cooling homes to powering pumps that supply water to lawns and gardens — and we, as well as other nearby cooperatives and utilities, have to deliver far more power than usual.

Those levels of power use are what we refer to as “peaks” and they put tremendous pressure on the regional power grids. The higher demand quickly and dramatically increases the wholesale cost of that electricity, which then gets passed along to our members.

What might surprise you is there are simple steps you can take to protect the power grid and help us avoid buying expensive power on peak-use days.

One such step is increasing the temperature on your home’s thermostat by a degree or two. You would be amazed at how much a small change will reduce the power you use without having a big effect on your comfort.

Some of the biggest energy-wasters at peak times are swimming pools and water pumps for ponds and fountains. Fortunately, many swimming pools and pumps have timers which can be set to avoid the peak periods of the day — generally from 6-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. — and do its work when power is not in great demand.

Waiting to water your lawn or garden until after peak times is another way you can reduce peak use. By waiting until just before sunset, you will help us avoid buying extra power and less of what you put on the ground will evaporate.

LaGrange County REMC also offers a variety of PowerShift programs to help members reduce their energy use during peak times. Those who can reduce power when energy supplies are low, or when wholesale market prices are high, may earn financial incentives by participating in these programs.

By being aware of peak power requirements and taking steps such as these, you can play a personal part in protecting the reliability of the power grid and reducing the cost of electricity. After all, as a co-op, we pass both price increases and savings along to our members.