Working Together to Beat the Peak

The Cooperative Advantage – March 2023 CCL CEO Article

By Ruth Marks, MVEA CEO

Ruth Marks, MVEA CEOIn January, we talked about resource adequacy and its impact on the reliability of the power that we supply to Mountain View Electric Association members. In February, we talked about current rate pressures on our wholesale power supplier that will culminate in rate adjustments going into 2024. This month, let’s start talking about ways that we can work together to help manage wholesale power costs and increase grid reliability by managing energy demand and “beating the peak.”

Energy demand is the term used to describe your use of electricity. It drives our whole energy system, impacting the total amount of energy used, the location and types of fuels used to generate your energy, and the technologies you use to consume our energy. MVEA purchases power from Tri-State G&T based on the average energy demand of our members — a number that is on the rise.

If you look around your home, you’ll likely notice you have more devices and equipment that require electricity than ever before. You may even have an electric vehicle. As you would expect, based on your family’s habits, electricity use fluctuates throughout the day. As demand for electricity rises, MVEA is responsible for providing enough electricity to meet the energy needs of all members during times of highest energy use or “peak hours.” These peak times are typically in the morning as people start their day and in the evening as people return to their homes.

What you may not know is that electric utilities, including MVEA, pay more for electricity during those morning and evening hours of peak demand. Peak demand refers to the time of day when the demand for electricity is highest. Think of it as the highest amount of energy you (and your neighbors) need from us all at once. At MVEA, our current peak demand happens around 6:30 p.m.

In addition, the demand for electricity is even higher when it’s especially hot or cold outside. The temperature outside plays a big part in the amount of energy that is used to control the temperature inside. Home heating and cooling systems must run longer, using more energy, to warm and cool our homes. Like many products, when there is a higher demand, there is a higher cost for that product. As more and more members use electricity all at once, we are required to provide adequate energy to meet those needs — increasing our total cost of purchased power during a period of peak demand.

During peak periods when the cost to produce and purchase power is higher, we encourage you to take simple steps to save energy — steps such as turning down your thermostat to 68 degrees in winter and turning it up to 78 degrees in summer; turning off unnecessary lights; and waiting to use large appliances during off-peak times. If you own an electric vehicle, please charge it after midnight. If you have a programmable thermostat, adjust the settings to heat or cool before 5 p.m. or after 10 p.m.

When we all work together to reduce energy use during periods of high electricity demand, we can relieve pressure on the grid and “beat the peak” to reduce the peak power supply costs that affect every MVEA member. This is particularly important as energy costs have risen across the U.S.

While there are small shifts in energy use habits that we can all make, some members may benefit from switching to a time-of-day rate. MVEA’s time-of-day rate offers a cost-saving solution to members who can shift their energy use to off-peak, lower rate periods. To learn more about our time-of-day rate, visit our Rules and Regulations page to access the “16.05 Residential Time of Day Service Rate” document or call (800) 388-9881.

Taking simple steps to save energy throughout the day and shifting energy-intensive chores to off-peak hours is a smart choice that can make a big difference. Working together, we can spread out our energy use and beat the peak to save energy and money.