Buckeye Rural urges customers to conserve

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

Temperatures are pushing 100 degrees, but one local energy cooperative is urging customers to limit the use of their air conditioners, as well as other household appliances, in order to keep electric bills from skyrocketing in the upcoming weeks.

Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative customers are being asked to conserve electricity between the hours of 3 and 7 p.m. to help avoid setting a new peak in electric use. The company is expecting the recent hot and humid weather to result in near record air conditioning load, thus the need to conserve, said BREC spokesman Steve Oden.

BREC’s system is likely to peak during the afternoon and early evening period today. This is when energy conservation can do the most good, according to Oden.

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He said the peak alert warning doesn’t mean there is a shortage of power. But, he explained that the cost of electricity may be driven up by high demand. Consumers will continue to be charged for the massive amount of electric used during the recent heat wave, even when consumption returns to normal.

“Maybe the best way to explain the effect of peak demand is to imagine that every time you were hungry for a hamburger from your favorite restaurant, they charged you for a pound of ground beef instead of a patty,” he said. “

He said when the power grid is in a peaking situation, kilowatts that have to be purchased in excess of usual demand are very costly. The more kilowatts needed, the costlier electric bills will be.

In addition to limiting air conditioner use during the peak hours, there are other ways to conserve energy, such as keeping the air conditioner thermostat set at 80 degrees and turning off the swimming pool pump in the afternoon.

Oden described water heaters, hot tubs, pools, air conditioners, and ovens as “voracious kilowatt-hour gobblers.” He suggested turning your water heater down 10 degrees and refraining from using large amounts of hot water until later in the evening. Also, he urged customers the use of the stove or oven in the evening hours only.

Keeping curtains and window blinds closed will also help keep homes cooler, resulting in a need for less air conditioning.

Oden said bills from this summer’s heat wave will be higher, but, there is hope on the horizon. Bills are expected to dip in September and October, he said.

“If we understand that electric bills have a demand component and take steps to conserve during peak periods, this will translate into dollar savings and relieve some pressure on the power plants and transmission grid,” he added.

For more information, visit the BREC Web site at www.buckeyerec.com and click on the “Customer Service” tool bar option.