Beginning in 2019, United Power will begin a phase-in implementation of a residential demand rate that will replace the current rate structure. In preparation for this new way of thinking about your electric consumption, the following information will help members better understand demand as it relates to their energy use.
- What is demand?
- Why the change to a demand rate?
- How do I know what my demand was?
- What has the biggest impact on my demand?
- How can I control or lower my demand?
- How much will this new rate cost me?
What is demand?
Demand refers to the maximum amount of electrical power that is being consumed at a given time, as opposed to energy which is the amount of power used over a period of time.
The Demand Charge line item that now appears on your month bill represents the 15-minute interval with the highest amount of electricity used during that billing month—measured in kilowatts (kW).
FOR EXAMPLE: Get in the driver’s seat of your car for a moment. Energy (kWh) would be what is recorded on your car’s odometer—a measurement of total miles. Demand is like your speedometer—measuring the speed at which the energy flows. The demand charge is like the highest recorded “miles-per-hour” speed that month.
Why the change to a demand rate?
Residential electric rates have traditionally been a blend of costs. The cost of fuels to generate electricity, the cost to deliver the energy to your home, the cost to the cooperative to maintain and repair the system, even the cost of billing is included in the rates you pay – and we all share in the overall cost for power and peak charges.
However, there have always been members whose usage patterns impacted our system more than others. So, for some members they may be paying less than their actual impact and others are paying more than they should – even when they are doing all the right things to keep costs lower.
We now have access to more information about how individual members use power. We have information about every member’s energy consumption in 15-minute increments, and we can actually determine how individual households are impacting our system.
This additional information allows us to break apart the various components of your electric bill and charge you more fairly for the two largest drivers of your electric consumption: your impact on the electric system (your demand), and amount of power you consume (your energy use).
How do I know what my demand was?
Your electric bill now includes a new line item associated with your energy consumption: a Demand Charge. The Demand Charge will reflect your highest interval of energy consumption during that billing period, which is measured in kilowatts (kW). The demand component will not have a charge associated at first to help you understand how your usage and demand correlate.
The Power Portal is United Power’s newest resource for members, and offers a detailed look at monthly energy consumption data and overall usage history. This free online resource allows members to view monthly, daily and hourly energy use by 15-minute intervals, and presents your demand with an easy-to-see orange line. The Power Portal provides the information you need to help you pinpoint the exact day and time you hit your demand. Learn more about using the Power Portal here.
What has the biggest impact on my demand?
Major appliances used for heating and cooling, cooking, and laundry are your home’s largest energy consumers and have the greatest impact on your overall energy usage and demand. The more appliances or devices you run at the same time, the higher your electricity demand.
Depending on your home, family size and appliances, your demand will vary, and your highest demand season may be different from other members.
- In the summer months your demand may be higher due to air conditioning, pool pumps, fountains, hot tubs, irrigation motors or power tools and compressors.
- In the winter, demand is driven by electric heat or space heaters, stock tank heaters, heat lamps, electric fireplaces, and increased usage for holiday lighting, cooking and entertaining.
Understanding the wattage ratings of your household appliances will help you take even more control of your energy bill. Listings of common wattage ratings can be found online or you can measure your appliance wattage usage by using tools like a Kill-A-Watt monitor.
How can I control or lower my demand?
Staggering the use of major appliances will be the easiest way to manage your electric bill under the new rate structure. When you consistently stagger the use of major appliances so they don’t run at the same time, you can keep your demand low. Make it easier by utilizing technology that helps you remember to offset energy use like timers, delay start settings, mobile apps and programmable thermostats.
Here are some helpful tips to manage your demand:
- Run the dishwasher after you’re done cooking dinner. Even better, use the delay start
feature so your dishwasher runs later at night while everyone is in bed.
- Start your clothes washer before you go to bed in the evening, and then run the
dryer after everyone has finished cooking breakfast the following morning.
- Grill outside or use small cooking appliances if the air conditioning is running.
Bonus: you won’t overheat your kitchen on a hot day.
- Set your electric vehicle charger to run after you’ve you turned off other appliances for the day.
Small changes in how you use your household appliances will help you see the corresponding affect to your energy and demand, and United Power’s new demand rate will put you in the driver’s seat of your electric bill.
How much will this new rate cost me?
The exact rate for the residential Demand Charge has not yet been set. The Board of Directors will be reviewing proposed rate changes this fall, with the intention of introducing the rate slowly with small incremental changes annually over a four-year period. The process includes an extensive Cost of Service study, so we design rates that truly reflect how customers affect our costs. Demand charges for residential ratepayers will be lower than those paid by commercial customers, primarily based on how they use power.
Watch for announcements with more information on the approved rate. Demand charges will begin appearing on the bill in 2019 and will be accompanied by a corresponding reduction in the Energy Charge (kWh). When the demand rate is implemented, the demand charge will be calculated by multiplying the kW indicated on your bill by the per kW rate.