Archive for Monday, July 9, 2012

Westar seeking volunteers for pilot project that encourages off-peak electric usage

July 9, 2012, 2:34 p.m. Updated July 9, 2012, 4:53 p.m.


— Westar Energy is seeking 1,000 customers to participate in a pilot project that utility officials said could provide savings on electric bills.

The voluntary program provides what are called Time of Use rates to encourage customers to shift their electric usage to off-peak periods when demand is lower.

“This gives an opportunity for customers who think they can do this, to get on board, maybe save some money in the process, and it helps us manage the total load on the system,” said Hal Jensen, director of customer service and programs at Westar.

In the summer, peak energy usage times during weekdays are from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Under the Time of Use pilot program, the cost for energy during that period would be approximately 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour, while using energy during off-peak times would be approximately 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

In winter, the peak energy usage is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Under the Time of Use program, energy costs at that time would be nearly 8 cents per kilowatt hour while energy used during the off-peak period would cost nearly 5 cents per kilowatt hour.

Jensen said a household that could shift discretionary usage, such as doing laundry, to off-peak periods would benefit from the program.

Westar officials said Lawrence customers are in a good position to take advantage of the program because they already have access to their personal, detailed energy usage information through Westar’s deployment of “smart” meters throughout the city.

To sign up for the Time of Use pilot program, call Westar’s customer service center at 1-855-StarOne (1-855-782-7663).

The program is a three-year pilot that is restricted to 1,000 people per year. Westar will accept applications on a first-come, first-served basis.

David Springe, consumer counsel for the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board, said the results of the pilot program should be interesting.

However, he added, “But ask yourself, who is going to sign up? People who are pretty motivated to start with and are not extremely dependent on mid-day power. I’m not sure the results will tell us anything on a broader scale,” Springe said.

He pointed to a program in Chicago that showed only a small percentage of participants changed their behavior.


Bursting 5 years, 11 months ago

yay, I just can't wait to pay different rates for different times of the day. Hey Westar! F-you!

Joe Berns 5 years, 11 months ago

"The voluntary program provides what are called Time of Use rates to encourage customers to shift their electric usage to off-peak periods when demand and prices are lower."

Pardon my ignorance, but why are prices cheaper before 1 pm and after 8 pm? Does it take less fuel to create the energy in off peak hours? What contributing factors make the energy cheaper at those times as opposed to the middle of the day? The infrastructure is already there, the costs should be the same no matter when you use the energy....

hyperspaced 5 years, 11 months ago

Prices are higher between 1 and 8 because load increases and usually hits its peak during that time frame. During that time period, the increased load is usually covered with higher cost gas and oil fired peak generators or with purchased power, both of which cost a lot more than base load generation.

madameX 5 years, 11 months ago

I think 'peak' refers to when energy use tops out on a given day. So on any given day in the winter there might be a longer period where energy use tops out, but the overall level of use could still be lower than it is during the shorter peak time in the summer.

labmonkey 5 years, 11 months ago

Winter rates and usage are much lower than summer rates.... peak usage just refers to the highest usage per day.

Cai 5 years, 11 months ago

Also note that although the peak hours are extended, the cost is cheaper in the winter. off peak cost is within .5 cents per KWh. but summer peak is 13.5 cents while winter peak is only 8.

tolawdjk 5 years, 11 months ago

Because while the peak isn't as "high" as it is in the summer (see the related cost data) it reaches that peak sooner on any given day and stays at that point longer.

Here is a link to a discussion on this from an Australian website.

Now, I am sure the Westar graph will be different, but the concepts are the same. The mechanisms of life...heating water, refrigerators, washer dryers, lights, etc, etc...all occur in the summer and winter, and with a fixed amount of people, they generally consume the same amount season to season. Sure the individual contribution of each will change depending on the season, but the max demand required by these mechanisms of life is reached and plateaued fairly early in the day...hence the early peak in winter.

Summer adds in AC. And the AC demands and peak is driven by the high temp of the day. So the peak isn't reached until the sun has gotten done cooking your house and pushing your AC compressor into overdrive.

labmonkey 5 years, 11 months ago

When the temperature rises, demand rises and electricity costs more. The going rate for MWhr on a 100 degree day can go as high as $1000/MWhr, up from the usual $35-40 per MWhr. If demand is higher than what your utility can produce, they have to buy electricity from the grid at these higher rates.

Higher temperatures also create stress for the equipment at the power-plant. Many motors and pumps are air cooled, and they start to overheat if run full out which means it makes it harder for a power plant to run at full load. Also, you need some kind of cooling water in the condensers whether it comes from the river or cooling tower. When the river temperature rises to 85-90 degrees, cooling becomes difficult and again, you cannot run your power plant full out. And if the power plant trips, the utility has to buy the electricity off the grid until they get it back up which is more expensive to absorb as per my first paragraph.

Another reason prices are higher is that you receive almost no help from wind energy in the stagnation of summer which means you have to use more coal and combustion (gas) turbines (CT). (CT's are used during peak times because they can be brought up and shut down quickly whereas base load plants take several hours to days to bring up and shut down. When you bring the CT's up, you are using gas and man power you don't normally use). This is also why electricity is cheaper in the spring and fall when there actually is wind to push the wind turbines.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 11 months ago

Excellent explanation, thank you for it. I admit that I did not know how all these details and the cooling water coming from the river and how hot the river gets. I think I will do a little more research on the subject. Do you think that as global warming increases, this will mean less electricity as rivers heat up even more for longer periods of time? They have a lot of people without power in D.C. and seem to be having trouble getting it back on for everyone. It has been a grueling summer and it is only half over.

labmonkey 5 years, 11 months ago

Texas has somewhere north of 9600 MW of theoritical wind generation capacity, but they have found out that during heat waves, they only have about 6% of that available because the wind doesn't blow enough. They are also finding this out in Europe also.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 11 months ago

I think they should start with forcing Westar board of directors, CEO and other executives, stockholders and our elected state and local government officials to volunteer and pave the way.

deec 5 years, 11 months ago

England is doing some cool things to encourage alternative energy and conservation. Not only is net metering available everywhere, but utilities are required by law to pay for excess power generated by wind, solar, etc. They have tax credits, grants and loan programs to help with installation costs. I believe both rates charged and paid out are tiered like is suggested here.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm just irritated that my latest bill suddenly skyrocketed $20 since last month, and my usage hasn't changed other than the AC (can you really blame me for that?). They shouldn't be able to do that just because the temperatures are insanely high!

labmonkey 5 years, 11 months ago

Uhhh... you used more of their product to run your AC, so you deserve to pay more.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 11 months ago

Yes, they should. The more you use the more you pay. Sounds fair to me. Should you be able to go into a restaurant and get second courses of everything but only pay for one because you were so hungry when you sat down?

Matt Schwartz 5 years, 11 months ago

Are you really going to Kansas University and passing classes right now?

Dixie Jones 5 years, 11 months ago

KU are joking right ? she has to be because there is no way someone is that stupid.

Alceste 5 years, 11 months ago

The program is one big joke. Most of the bill from WESTAR is NOT in's in "fees". Look at the bill and you'll see what Alceste is referring to......

Sherry Warren 5 years, 11 months ago

Does anybody remember the "Wait til 8" campaign from the '70's? It was a TV ad campaign that encouraged people to do things like laundry and run the dishwasher between 8 pm and 8 am when demand was lower. I still follow this, and it is easier now with things like built-in timers on appliances.

Alceste 5 years, 11 months ago

....but the rate per KWH is no different, chucklehead......

Jayhawk1958 5 years, 11 months ago

PR stunt to deflect from their continual rate hikes. Another example of "social responsibility" I guess.

Centerville 5 years, 11 months ago

"I'm just irritated that my latest bill suddenly skyrocketed $20 since last month, and my usage hasn't changed other than the AC (can you really blame me for that?). They shouldn't be able to do that just because the temperatures are insanely high!"

So, you think you shouldn't have to pay for the electricity that runs your air conditioner?

matahari 5 years, 11 months ago

Just got off the phone from Westar (very informative and helpful) 2.7 pkh would be saved, if approved for program, but my highest usage is beteen noon and 6 PM, altho, the saving would be much less in winter. I am going to the dashboard, and perusing the westar site, and paying more attention to my details on bills etc

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