Load control

The benefits of avoiding electricity’s ‘rush hours’

Posted on Apr 21 2022 in Energy
Person washing laundry

By Jarred Meinders

Every day, you take your energy for a drive.

Some days, it is a slow cruise around the block. Others, it is pedal to the metal from dawn to dusk.

Most often, you land somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.

But what does all that look like on your bill and where does load control come in?

Those are two great questions best answered with the driving analogy.

  • Energy is the odometer – how far you go.
  • Demand is the speedometer – how fast you go.

A 100-watt lightbulb demands 100 watts of electricity when it is energized. If you had 10 such lightbulbs, they would demand 1,000 watts or 1 kilowatt. If they operate for 60 minutes, then one kilowatt-hour of electricity is used.

On your residential bill, you are primarily paying for what is on your odometer – the miles (kilowatt-hours) you drove times the electrical rate.

But on a hot summer day, if you’re driving energy for your air conditioning, your clothes dryer and those lightbulbs while everyone else is doing the same, the demand put on the electric grid increases exponentially with only so much room on the road.

Load control seeks to reduce the demand at those peak moments, so member cooperatives and member-consumers are offered an incentive not to drive in rush hour traffic. By staying off the road during rush hour and delaying, not canceling, your trip, you help reduce demand on the grid and ultimately save money on your bill.

The trick is reducing traffic enough to make a significant impact. If only a handful of cars stay off the road in rush hour, the traffic will still be heavy with greater potential for problems. It would take a majority of the usual rush hour drivers deciding to stay off the road and delay their trip for the traffic jams to be alleviated.

The more participants in load control, driving demand before or after rush hour, the greater the impact.

JARRED MEINDERS is a DSM technician at Southeastern Indiana REMC in Osgood, Indiana