Wellesley’s energy demand often peaks in September when folks are back from summer holidays, students are back in school and heat waves continue. This September is no different and the Town of Wellesley is sending out an energy demand alert to all residents, schools and companies for this Thursday, September 7th.
What is a peak energy demand alert?
Watch this video to learn more or read on.
ISO New England (Wellesley’s regional electric grid system operator) assesses all retail utilities like Wellesley’s Municipal Light Plant (WMLP) a “capacity” charge to cover the costs of ensuring there is enough electric power capacity to meet the anticipated annual peak demand. This capacity charge is based solely on the town’s total energy use* during the ONE annual peak hour on the grid. This charge is added to the wholesale energy (kWh) cost that WMLP pays for one full year. In recent years this charge accounted for about 37% of a customer’s total energy charge. (*Energy use is the kWh charge you see on your bill, and includes generation, transmission and capacity charges.)
Thus, when it's hot and many of us have our air conditioners running on top of other everyday appliances pulling energy, the demand is high. The good news is that since Wellesley started alerting residents, building owners and operators, as well as the schools, we have been successful in reducing energy demand during peak loads. Voluntary peak alerts resulted in reducing demand by 450 kW last summer, resulting in savings of about $23,000 to the WMLP.
Why is it important to YOU?
Every Mhw saved, saves Wellesley Municipal Light Plant money and that savings gets passed to its customers: you. Yes, reducing energy during peak load results in financial savings that are passed along directly to WMLP customers in reduced energy charges on your bill. Plus, the dirty little secret is that it's not just about saving energy and money, but about improving air quality for poor, BIPOC communities. Learn more here.
What can you do? Here are 4 easy tips.
1) Simply be aware of Peak Demand and what the best times to use energy are: weekdays before 4pm and after 8pm, and on weekends.
2) Manage your energy use. Appliances that heat or cool like dryers, air conditioners and heat pumps, electric cooktops and ovens, use a lot of power. So do car chargers. Plan to shift your non-essential usage on weekdays to before 4pm or after 8pm. If your cooktop range and oven are electric, consider grilling or eating cold meals on peak demand days. This can mean pre-programing or manually adjusting air conditioners, thermostats, or heat pumps to run a few degrees higher during warm days.
3) Talk this up. Tell neighbors, friends and family members about the importance of limiting energy use during peak demand hours. Let them know it impacts our local communities in terms of the environment, cost, and health, especially of economically disadvantaged communities where many ‘peaker plants’ are located. All of our small changes can have a big effect when adopted on a large scale.
4) Sign up to get peak demand notifications and heed the alerts. You can sign up here for notifications.
Providing enough electricity to meet the relatively few peak days that occur each year has important environmental and economic impacts. The whole community benefits with lower rates and lower polluting emissions when we manage our energy demand and reduce usage during peak times. For the good of our community, we all need to be smart about our energy use.