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A Healthy Electricity Diet

This month I’m going to write an article about saving money. Yes, it will have lots of information about electric utility stuff, but what I’m really talking about is how we — the Brown-Atchison Electric Cooperative family — can lower our costs and save money. Significant money. Together.

I’m talking about something called “demand response.” So, what the heck is that? It sounds like going on an electricity diet or something. Actually, that sort of nails it! Demand response means cutting back electricity consumption at the most crucial times to lower costs.

At Brown-Atchison, we purchase the electricity that we delivery to you from Kansas Electric Power Cooperative (KEPCo), our cooperative power supplier. KEPCo provides power to us and charges us in two ways.

First, there are energy charges for the volume of kilowatt-hours (kWh) used. Think of kWhs like the miles you drive in your car: those miles are measured by the odometer. The kWh charge is the charge for the all the “miles” of electricity Brown-Atchison buys from KEPCo.

The second type of charge is the demand charge. In contrast to the odometer which measures how far a car travels, the speedometer measures how fast the car is going at a particular point in time. Similarly, the demand charge from KEPCo measures how fast Brown-Atchison members are consuming electricity at a particular point in time. Demand-related charges generally represent well over half of Brown-Atchison’s power bill from KEPCo. In other words, we can lower the cost for all the “miles” of electricity we consume if we lower how fast we consume it at particular points in time.

That all sounds pretty complicated! This is where the electricity diet thing comes in: We can significantly lower electricity costs by carefully choosing when we consume it. Just like any effective diet, you don’t have to completely give up eating to lose weight, you just have to be careful what you eat. For me, it’s simply about watching the carbs! For power cost savings, it simply about watching when we consume electricity.

I mentioned “particular point in time.” Most of KEPCo’s demand charges for Brown-Atchison are set over just a handful of hours during the summer. Specifically, Monday thru Friday, from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m., in the months of July and August. That’s it. Cool it with the cooling. Lighten up with the lights. Let the dishes sit. Forget the laundry for a few hours. Cut back how much electricity we “eat” during that “skinny” 1.2% of the hours each year, and our electricity costs will be “leaner” all year.

One little side note: You may have noticed that your bill came a few days later and is due a few days later. By pushing the billing back a few days, it allows us to more accurately reflect the power cost bill we receive from KEPCo.

-Michael Volker, General Manager