If you are a loyal Electric Consumer reader, you’re familiar with energy efficiency. But why would Fulton County REMC, the co-op that sells you electricity, want you to use less? After all, the more electricity we sell, the more money we make, right? Well, that’s not always the case for co-ops.
We don’t generate electricity; we distribute it. Our lines and system were put in place to get electricity safely and reliably to our members’ homes. We must buy the electricity from a power supplier. In our case, that supplier is Wabash Valley Power Association (WVPA), a generation and transmission cooperative based in Indianapolis.
We work with other co-ops to get the best price we can from our supplier, WVPA. Together, we estimate how much electricity we will need and then make a deal with WVPA to purchase that power. Your REMC used 64.5 cents out of every dollar we made in 2015 to purchase power.
If we demand more power, our power supplier may have to build more power plants to supply that power. A power plant costs millions of dollars to build. Where do you think they are going to get that money? You and me.
Even our best estimate on how much power we need cannot take in account unexpected situations. Let’s say we have unexpected weather like a month of May with 90 to 100 degree days. This means a lot more air conditioners are running for much longer times then we had planned for that month. We will have to buy more electricity from the wholesale market. Because other power suppliers also need more electricity at those same times, the increased demand drives the cost of wholesale power up, therefore increasing the cost to our members. This is an example of where using more electricity actually does cost us more money.
This shows why we have asked you to allow us to install load control switches on your irrigation systems, water heaters and air conditioners. If we can shed that load (in this case during the hottest part of the day), we can purchase that power at a lot lower cost later that same day when the temperature and demand drops.
We as a nation are using more and more power every year. Again, the more we use, the more we have to make.
Remember: Building those power plants costs a lot of money. So, using more energy-efficient appliances and lighting will reduce that need for more power. Don’t forget you can heat and cool your home more efficiently, too. Seal up all those holes and leaks in your home and insulate. It will save you as a homeowner and us as a co-op. We will even help you find those leaks around your home. Call us and schedule a home audit and/or blower door test today!
Another reason we encourage members to reduce their use of electricity is just as important. We’re not an investor-owned utility; we are a co-op. That means we are a non-profit organization. We exist to serve the needs of our members, not to make profits for our shareowners. We don’t have shareowners; we have members. We work to help our members make the most of their energy dollars and improve the comfort of their homes. We want you to use electricity, but we want to help you use it wisely. We don’t need to sell produce to increase our value. We want to sell produce that has value, not just something that’s wasted and costs more.
If you’d like to learn more about ways in which you can make more efficient use of electricity in your home, contact us at 574-223-3156. We offer free residential energy audits, blower door testing, a water heater program, and rebates on lighting and heating and cooling upgrades.
Member Services Manager and
Energy Advisor at Fulton County REMC