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CO - OP LIVI NG


Engaged Co-op Members Help Reduce Energy Traffi c, Electric Bills


By Megan McKoy-Noe, CCC Rush hour traffic


Electricity can’t be stored easily, so it must be used as soon as it’s generated. As a result, electric co-ops must be ready to supply enough energy to meet spikes in electricity consumption. If energy use could be spread more evenly over time instead of peaking once or twice each day, fewer power plants would be needed. In turn, power costs would level out as well.


According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, electric co-ops, public-power districts, and public-utility dis- tricts can shave 6 percent of their peak demand—including about 1,440 megawatts (MW) of residential load—through programs known variously as demand-side man- agement, load management, or demand re - sponse. These measures help keep electric bills affordable.


The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the nation’s bulk power grid watchdog, estimates that America needs to build 135,000 MW of new generation by 2017 to meet the growing demand for elec- tricity. Power plants on the drawing board, however, will only deliver 77,000 MW. To fi ll the generation gap, a 2009 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission assessment found that approximately 150,000 MW could be


6 OKLAHOMA LIVING


can be harrowing at times. Imagine how much easier


the drive would be if more folks decided to wait an hour or two to hit the road! That’s what many electric cooperatives are asking members to do during the electricity use “rush hour,” known as “peak demand.” By working together, co-ops and members are reducing energy use—and higher associated power costs— during these high-traffi c periods.


offset by conservation and energy effi ciency- measures or by lowering peak demand. Efforts by engaged co-op members to curb energy use during peak times may provide a handy detour to new plant construction, at least temporarily.


The Rush Hour Toll We use a steady amount of energy, regard- less of whether we’re at home or away. Refrig- erators, air-conditioning and heating sys- tems, and appliances create base-load power requirements—the minimum amount of electricity your electric co-op needs to reli- ably supply all of its members.


Lots of consumers tend to use electricity at the same time—in the morning to warm up the house and get kids ready for school, and later in the day after work when making dinner and settling in the for evening. The price for power rises and falls depend- ing on the type of fuel (coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, etc.) used to generate electric- ity, and the fuel used often depends when power is needed. For example, generating a steady fl ow of power with a baseload coal, nuclear, or hydro facility costs far less than starting up a natural-gas peaking plant on a Continued on page 8


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